MILLSAP, MICHAEL DALE (1948 ~ ) In 1988 Mike Millsap completed four terms as a lawmaker from his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas in Tarrant County. A Democrat in a conservative Republican district, Millsap voted for fiscal responsibility while remaining sensitive to the needs of people.
Millsap was born in post-World War II Ft. Worth, a city important to the cattle drives along the Chisholm Trail in the 1800’s and known as “Cowtown,” also “Where the West Begins.” Millsap was reared by a prominent Methodist minister from Hill County and a devout Christian Mother who was a Fort Worth Classroom teacher and a child of missionary parents to China.
Millsap attended Amon Carter Riverside High School where he was a pole vaulter and co-captain of the track team. He graduated from Carter in 1966. After high school, Millsap enrolled in 1966 at Texas Wesleyan College (TWC) in Ft. Worth, and was on the Dean’s Honor List at TWC and a member of the track team before transferring to Texas Christian University (TCU) in 1968. It was at TCU where Millsap began writing, winning the Southwestern Literature Award in 1969 for depicting the life of a boy named Blakey Morris, growing up in rural Texas. At TCU Millsap was a member of the varsity track team. He again performed in the pole vault, known as a field event. During this time Millsap was the equipment manager in the university gymnasium where he began playing handball. Soon he was hired by the university to teach handball and Millsap won the TCU/YMCA Handball Championship in 1970. Millsap graduated from TCU in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts in Government.
After graduating from TCU Millsap enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1970 and after basic training became an infantry officer assigned to the 1st Marine Division. In 1971 he married Sharon Getty at a ceremony in the Ft. Lee, Virginia chapel. During his time in the Marines Millsap, an infantry officer, served as an infantry platoon commander with 2nd Battalion 1st Marines, 1st Force Reconnaissance Co., Division staff officer, and company executive officer.
After completing his active duty military obligation in December 1973, Millsap joined Aetna Life & Casualty Insurance Company in January 1994 as a corporate recruiter based in Austin, Texas. In 1976 Millsap joined the Ft. Worth, Texas office of Aetna as an insurance agent under the management of Louis Gibson, General Agent. A few years later Millsap formed a brokerage firm, Millsap Insurance Services, and marketed personal and business insurance through many of the leading insurance companies in the country.
Also in 1976, Millsap became a candidate for the Texas House of Representatives. He was elected and went back to Austin, serving four terms in the Texas Capitol as a State Representative. In 1980 he managed Rep. Gib Lewis’ campaign for Speaker of the House. Lewis was elected by his fellow members in 1983 and Millsap continued as a key advisor. Millsap served on various House committees; Appropriations, State Affairs, Energy, Environmental Affairs, Higher Education and was Chair of the Committee on House Administration. He also served on the Joint Capitol Centennial Committee with First Lady Rita Clements, former First Lady Nellie Connally, former Gov. Price Daniel, and historian T.R. Fehrenbach. The committee’s charge was to plan the celebration of the one hundred year anniversary of the dedication of the Texas State Capitol in 1988.
During his legislative career Millsap voted on thousands of measures. In a system designed to defeat, not pass legislation, Millsap enacted numerous bills into law including: HB 410 relating to the regulation of the practice of medicine in performing certain abortions, HB 593 relating to regulation of nursing home administrators, HB 913- relating to the offense of passing a stopped school bus, HB 275-relating to home improvement contracts and protecting a homestead from foreclosure, HB 1107-promoting the music industry and creating the Texas Music Commission and HB 1201 relating to the safety and requiring inspections of, certain amusement park rides.
In 1985 Millsap was selected the Outstanding Young Man of Fort Worth by the Fort Worth Junior Chamber of Commerce. He was named a Distinguished Graduate of Amon Carter Riverside High School in 1988.
Millsap announced he would not seek reelection to the House in 1988, planning to return to Fort Worth and the private sector. However, Speaker Gib Lewis asked him to stay in Austin and become the Speaker’s Chief of Staff. Millsap accepted and served as the Speaker’s Chief of Staff for two terms before deciding after four years in 1991, to resign and return to Ft. Worth and resumption of his career in business.
That same year, 1991, The University of Texas System Chancellor, Dr. Hans Mark, offered Millsap the position of Vice Chancellor for Governmental Relations, responsible for Congressional and Legislative Relations. During his tenure, and with the leadership of the Board of Regents and Chancellor, and diligent legislative sponsors, significant accomplishments were secured from the legislature such as; the South Texas Border Initiative in 1993, creation of the U.T. Investment Management Company (UTIMCO) and the omnibus M. D. Anderson Cancer Center legislation, in 1995, legislation amending the Capitol View Corridor statute to permit expansion of the Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, and the creation of the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen, now a medical component of the new UT Rio Grande Valley University in 1997, and a constitutional amendment to allow the Board of Regents to utilize “total return” in managing the Permanent University Fund in 1999. These and hundreds of other individual bills were passed benefitting the fifteen campuses as well as significant new General Revenue appropriations. Millsap served as UT System Vice Chancellor for almost nine years serving with three Chancellors and over thirty regents before resigning in 2000 to return to the private sector.
For the next fifteen years Millsap led a consulting practice in Austin, known as Millsap Consulting. Millsap also helped create a partnership in 2001 known as Business Partners, Ltd. to represent clients in government procurement. In his consulting practice Millsap represented clients at the legislature such as: Southwestern Bell and AT&T, Southwestern Medical Foundation (Southwestern Medical School), Lake Travis Fire Rescue, the City of Harlingen and M.D. Anderson Cancer Foundation. Millsap closed his consulting practice in 2014.
He and his wife, Sharon Marie Getty Millsap, have four children and seven grandchildren.
Sources: Legislative Reference Library, House Journals, News Media Outlets, Estate of M. D. Millsap