One Dynamic DuoJun 01, 2019 ● By Stephen Hunt
As the owners of Pardner’s Garden & Feed Store near Preston Road and Main Street, the Millers met in Frisco in 1989 and married in 1991. Since 1999, they have worked together at one of our community’s oldest businesses, established in 1971, purchased by Mr. Miller in 1978. After all these years in Frisco, these longtime residents could not be happier.
“I started doing the concrete, rod iron and plants and bringing gifts in the store. I take care of that side of it and Coy takes care of the other, but we work together,” Mrs. Miller, 68, says. “I do not ever want to be here without him because I cannot answer questions about his side of the store!”
Mr. Miller, 73, considers himself doubly blessed, to work at his dream job and do so alongside his wife, who he credits for the store’s ongoing success. “We had to change with the community. If not, we would have been out of business,” Mr. Miller says. “I credit Diane for leading us into that change because she brought in the gifts and the concrete and the metal products that would bring in the ladies. And the ladies are the ones who do the shopping most of the time.”
The Millers continue to call Frisco home and are proud to say they have a Coit Road address, their abode sitting on an acre off the now-bustling thoroughfare. But the amazing thing is, neither of them grew up here, yet both landed in Frisco in similar fashion.
Mr. Miller is a native of Cisco, Texas, also the hometown of Dash Crofts, half of the popular 1970s-1980s music duo Seals & Crofts. He met his first wife, who was from Frisco, while attending Cisco College and remembers traversing between Frisco and Commerce working toward his agriculture education degree at East Texas State University (now Texas A&M University-Commerce).
After student teaching in Frisco, Mr. Miller taught agriculture at DeSoto High School for 18 months before entering the private sector. His first stop was Garden City, Kan., where he worked in Pfizer’s animal health division. Guymon, Okla., was his next destination, as he worked first for Farr Better Feeds and then with Gigot Irrigation.
Mr. Miller always held fond memories of Frisco, so after his divorce, he moved here in 1978. He and one of his former students, Dan Worley, who he would buy out several years later, purchased Bob Griffin’s Farm Supply, which would become Pardner’s.
“Dan and I were going to incorporate, and were going to do ‘Partners,’ but the state would not let us do that, so we just decided, well, we are in Texas, so ‘Pardner’s makes sense,” Mr. Miller says. “I think it fits Diane and I, too. We are ‘pardners’ in life and business.”
Mrs. Miller hails from Weatherford, Okla., where she lived with her first husband and family while working in the oil business. However, like her future spouse, divorce led her to Frisco. Some friends felt Frisco would be a good place to start over, so she and her children relocated here in the late 1980s without knowing anyone.
It was a decision that would pay huge dividends in the future … and quick ones at that. In 1989, after constant attempts from fellow churchgoers at Frisco First Baptist Church to set her up with a new companion, she, then Diane Freeman, agreed to meet Mr. Miller. So, she set off for Pardner’s to buy some flowers.
Of course, Mr. Miller would not take no for an answer and quickly asked his future wife on a date. She accepted and remembers the reaction of her daughter, Tammy, then a freshman at Frisco High School, regarding who she was going on a first date with.
“She said, ‘Coy Miller? That is Troy Miller’s dad,’” Mrs. Miller recalls with a smile.
Troy Miller, now a custom home builder in Sherman, was then a Frisco High School senior who drove a sports car – a “big man on campus” and quite popular. Naturally, Mom going on a date with Troy Miller’s father elicited a ringing endorsement from Tammy.
Things went so well on that first date that about a year-and-a-half later, the Millers married and became a blended family. Both of Mr. Miller’s sons, Coy, who works for Big V Feeds in McAlester, Okla., and Troy, graduated from Texas A&M University with agriculture economics degrees.
Tammy graduated from Texas Woman’s University and now works for the Pilot Point School District, while her brother, Rocky Freeman, who played football and graduated from Brown University of the Ivy League, has run a successful landscape company, Haven Landscape and Irrigation, in Frisco for the past 20 years.
The Millers also have 13 grandchildren and two great grandchildren … with another on the way! When they are not working at the store, which is most of the week and half-days on Saturdays, they are admitted homebodies, preferring to spend time at home together, usually catching one of their favorite television shows.
One thing that has not changed is that Pardner’s (despite requests from some customers to be open), remains closed on Sundays, a day which the Millers devote to church, a meal at Cotton Patch Café and spending time with family, who mostly live in the area.
In previous years, Mr. Miller was active with the Frisco Chamber of Commerce, the school board and the school bond committee. For two decades he helped run the Frisco Fair and Livestock Show, before it ended in 2000, and served on the Frisco Buyer’s Committee.
For the past four decades plus, and the past 20 alongside Diane, Pardner’s has been his home away from home – the Millers’ own “happy place,” if you will. “There is no place I would rather be than right there. Of course, I do get to work with Diane,” Mr. Miller says. “I hope our love exudes in everything we do with the store.”
In recent years, the Millers have added two employees at Pardner’s, Camden McCulloch, who attends Collin College, and Hunter Roach, a sophomore at Tarleton State, who made the store more tech-friendly several years ago by starting a Facebook page where Mrs. Miller can publicize new products and so forth. While things have mostly stayed the same at their store, the Millers understand what it takes to stay relevant in customers’ eyes.
Prior to Pardner’s, Mrs. Miller worked in the oil business and at Fowler Middle School in Frisco ISD. If there is one thing about Pardner’s she especially loves, besides getting to work alongside her husband, it is the loyal group of customers who visit their store. “We love the people. When people come in, we want them to see that we love the Lord and you can trust us,” Mrs. Miller says. So, while some things in Frisco continue to change, some things, like the Millers’ love and involvement in the community, does not.
In 2016, the FISD dedicated Coy Miller Elementary in Little Elm to honor his longtime contributions to the community. And on the first day of every school year, the Millers are front and center to greet every student as they embark on a new school year.
During their time in Frisco, the Millers have been a blessing to their adopted home. They feel equally lucky to call Frisco home for all these years. “We are blessed,” Mr. Miller shares.