Miller retired from Robertson County in 2003 as an adult probation officer.
He supervised young people on parole and would file reports on them after visiting their homes so that a hearing could be held, he said.
“You never knew what you were going to find behind that door,” Miller said during a recent visit in the Flint home he shares with his wife, Linda.
The mother of one of the youngsters he supervised, who lived in Jefferson, called him to come to the residence because the boy refused to go to school and was still in bed. “I said 'good morning' and went into his bedroom and pulled the covers down on the bed. He had a machete and shotgun in the bed with him,” Miller said he pulled the covers back up over the boy and left, explaining that he was not armed in those days as he made his rounds .
Miller said while he worked as a parole officer in Smith County, he would travel around and visit youth in the Gatesville, Gainesville, and Mountain View State Schools as they existed before a 1971 lawsuit caused the reorganization of the juvenile justice system in Texas.
“I would have to go to their jobs, homes and schools to see how they were doing in all of the counties — some of the kids really lived in bad conditions,” Miller said. The juveniles and federal prisoners used to be housed on the fifth and the former sixth floors of the current Smith County Courthouse.
Miller grew misty-eyed as he recounted a few stories about some of the youth he supervised in those days, including one who suffered a drug overdose, and another who died in an accident. “They found my card on him,” Miller said.
Others who worked with Miller in his younger days agreed that he had a heart for young people. Beverly Womack, now a social worker in private practice in Tyler, was hired in 1974 as a juvenile parole officer in Smith County. She spent 14 years with Smith County and left to start her private practice in 1987.
Miller was “a character, but a very likeable person — he really cared about the kids,” Ms. Womack said.
There was one adult probation officer who worked with Miller during the early 1970s —Don Dillard, now 77, who retired from Smith County in 1993 after 24 ½ years. “It was a lot of work,” he said of the job supervising adults on probation. There were a lot of phone calls, often in the middle of the night, he said, when one of his charges was arrested or in trouble.
“It was a great profession — I really like helping people, but some you couldn't help,” Dillard said recently.
Former Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith said he remembered Miller as a nice guy and called him the lone ranger. “He was the only juvenile parole officer — he was it,” Smith said.
“We had such closeness and we all knew each other so well in those days — we knew each other's families,” Smith said of the time he worked with Miller.