Lexington, KY- Family and friends are remembering the man whose name has become synonymous with buying a new car in Lexington.
Paul E. Miller, 92, founder of Paul Miller Ford, passed away Friday, with his family at his side.
"This is a sad day for us as a family and for the many people who had the opportunity to know my grandfather," said J.P. Miller Jr., Paul Miller Autogroup president and general manager. "He will be dearly missed by his family, friends and the many people throughout Central Kentucky whose lives he touched. He leaves an unparalleled legacy of giving back to the community and of making the future brighter for many."
Even after he retired, Mr. Miller was a familiar face at the dealership he founded in 1953. Many recalled how he would come to his office at Paul Miller Ford to talk to personnel about sales and chat with customers.
On April 17, 2014, Mr. Miller took part in the celebration at the dealership for the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang. Mr. Miller greeted Gov. Steve Beshear, First Lady Jane Beshear and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. At that event, Mayor Gray said, "Family businesses, such as Paul Miller Ford and Ford Motor Co., are the backbone of our nation."
Paul E. Miller was born a salesman, a talent he recognized as a youngster. "I loved selling things. I loved people," he explained in a 2011 Lexington Herald-Leader article. At age 14, he sold newspapers on a street corner in Charleston, W.Va.
Through the years, he worked his way up to district manager.
After serving in World War II, he sold cars for a Charleston dealership owned by a businessman with several other Ford lots in the region. He rose through the ranks quickly and took higher-level jobs at some of those other dealerships. In 1953, he got the nod to help open one in Lexington, and he became president and general manager.
"We date the beginning of the dealership to the time my grandfather came to Lexington," said J.P. Miller Jr. Two years later, Miller bought the owner's share of the dealership at 255 East Main Street and changed its name to Paul Miller Ford.
Over the next decade, the business grew too large for the Main Street location and Mr. Miller purchased six acres at 975 New Circle Road, near the intersection with Winchester Road. He hired Lexington architect Helm Roberts to design the iconic building and its unusual roofline. The building itself soon became an attraction.
As he turned 90, Mr. Miller downplayed his personal achievements and attributed a lot of his success to luck and timing. "I'm one lucky guy," he admitted.
Funeral services for Miller will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 2, at Christ Church Cathedral, 166 Market St. Burial will follow in the Lexington Cemetery.
Milward-Broadway is handling the arrangements.