Paul Miller moved from Quincy, Mass., in 1994 and spent the next 19 years making a living on Charlotte roads.
He drove limousines, 18-wheelers and, for the past three years, ferried customers around town from behind the wheel of a Speedy Cab.
Miller, 56, was driving the cab last week when a BMW slammed into him near Park Road Shopping Center. He died on the way to the hospital.
Police charged the other driver with driving while impaired and other charges.
As Miller’s relatives and friends went through photos and prepared remarks Friday for a memorial service next week, they recalled a gentle man who loved traveling and helping out friends. Miller had a long list of regular clients who stored his cellphone number in their phones.
“He was well-liked by everybody down there,” said sister Suzanne Bjork, who still lives in Massachusetts.
Paul Miller was alone in the cab at 2 a.m. May 3 when the BMW driven by Justin Tyler Miller, 23, struck his cab at the intersection of East Woodlawn Road and Montford Drive, a police report shows.
The force of the collision threw Paul Miller, who was not wearing his seat belt, from the vehicle.
Police charged Justin Miller with felony death by vehicle, hit-and-run, DWI and driving with a revoked license. His license had been suspended in April after another DWI arrest in Huntersville. He is awaiting trial in both cases.
Bjork said family members are distraught over the circumstances of her brother’s death.
“We are upset in more ways than one – that that was the way his life ended,” Bjork told the Observer. “We had hoped for him to have a lot more fun, and family and future.”
A generous man
Paul Miller lived alone in Charlotte but he wasn’t a loner, Bjork said. He had many friends, was well-respected by his co-workers at Speedy Cab and loved kids, especially his eight nieces and nephews.
His sisters remember him dressing up as Santa Claus every Christmas before he left Massachusetts. He’d listen to the holiday wish lists of nieces and nephews and even visit local day care centers and businesses in the jolly red suit.
“He made the rounds on Christmas Eve and never took a nickel for it,” Bjork said. “He made a great Santa Claus. He was a big boy – there was no padding involved whatsoever.”
Miller moved from his hometown of Quincy to Charlotte in 1994 after his mother fell sick and he and his wife divorced, relatives said.
“He needed a fresh start,” said sister Karen Miller, noting Paul was the youngest of five siblings. “He got to Charlotte and started driving a limousine.”
It was the beginning of Miller’s long career as a Charlotte driver.
A Speedy Cab co-worker said he was well-suited for the industry, because he got along well with different types of people. After three years as a cabbie, he’d developed friendships with clients, according to his sister.
“He could be very charming,” Bjork said.
A happy life
Part of Miller’s charm came from his inability to say “no” – and his willingness to try anything once, his sisters said.
He never went to college, they said, but was never unemployed for long.
A graduate of a vocational-technical high school, a former ROTC member and Boy Scout, Miller worked in metal foundries before becoming a limo driver and was a skilled craftsman.
He also spent several years as a security guard for the Marriott in Charlotte, according to former girlfriend Della Miller.
In recent years, family members had heard from Miller only a couple of times. He mailed cards on birthdays and sometimes called on holidays.
He and a friend from Fort Mill, S.C., visited his sister Karen four years ago on one of his cross-country trips as a truck driver.
Relatives said the distance was natural. All five of the Miller siblings had grown apart over the past two decades.
And their baby brother seemed happy, his sisters said.
“He had made a new life for himself in Charlotte,” Bjork said. “We knew that we would hear if something bad happened.” Observer researcher Maria David contributed.
Steele: 705-358-5067; on Twitter: @steelecs
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