Milton E. McGregor: Plays by the Rules
Milton’s parents, Walter Scott McGregor and Johnnie Doris Day, owned the Palace Market, a grocery store and meat market in Hartford where Milton worked as a delivery boy.
Hartford Mayor Johnny Hughes, who delivered groceries for McGregor’s mother, knew Milton as a child, was his company commander in the National Guard and was a partner with him in a Ford dealership.
“l guess l’ve known him from every angle. I think his best asset is he’s the same guy now that he was then. He’s never stepped on any toes to get anywhere…He still takes time to help anybody from the lowest to the highest” Hughes said. [Birmingham News, May 14, 1992]
Milton’s father died when Milton was 8 years old leaving his mother to operate the business and raise Milton and his brother.
“She taught me to be honest, work hard, and always do the right thing; and if you made a commitment to somebody to always fulfill that commitment. She had a strong religious belief and she made sure we did the right thing. She was a fine mother and a fine person. I admired her very much. We were friends, buddies.” -Milton McGregor[Birmingham, June 1992]
Education & Service to His Country
Milton attended public school in Hartford and graduated from Geneva County High School in 1957. He enrolled in business school at Troy State University in 1957, but was drafted within a year into the United States Army. After completing basic and advanced training, Milton was assigned to the 25th lnfantry Division in Oahu, Hawaii, where he completed his initial tour of duty in 1960.
Milton returned to Alabama and attended Auburn University’s business school until 1961 when he was called back to active duty by President Kennedy due to the Berlin Crisis. He was stationed in the Mojave Desert at Fort lrwin, California for the final year of his military service in 1962.
“Milton is a God fearing and loving family man, who has dedicated his life to the social and economic development of Macon County. I have come to know him as a man of impeccable character, hard working, fun loving and compassionate. He is indeed, someone very dependable and trustworthy that you can count on and I am privileged to call him a friend.” –Alfonza Menefee, Probate Judge [Personal Letter, May 2011]
If you asked Milton what matters most — it’s family first. Milton has been married to Patricia Ann Turner of Daleville, Alabama, for over 40 years. They have two adult daughters, Kim McGregor and Cynthia (Cindy) Benefield.
Cindy is married to Montgomery Veterinarian Dr. Lewis T. Benefield and they have three children. Kim McGregor has four children.
“Milton is the finest person I know. I’m 72 years old
and I’ve known a lot of people. He never meets a stranger
and is always willing to help anybody.”
-Dorothy Reynolds, longtime family friend
Early Career and Entrepreneur
Milton moved to Huntsville, Alabama when he joined Brown Engineering firm in 1964. In 1967 he accepted a job with Boeing, also located in Huntsville.
ln 1968 Milton’s mother became seriously ill, and he decided to leave Boeing and move back to Hartford to tend to his mother and the family business. She passed away on his return. At age 29 Milton was overseeing the family business and working as a supply superintendent with Northrop Aircraft in Fort Rucker. While at Fort Rucker Milton had several business ventures, including McGregor Amusement Company, a video game business.
ln 1981, after 13 years at Fort Rucker, Milton resigned to engage in the video game business full time. Milton opened Happy Tymes video arcades in Enterprise, Dothan and Ozark and placed video machines in businesses throughout south Alabama and northwest Florida.
“He wouldn’t tolerate drugs or drinking. Milton stuck with the place and ran it right. Whenever he had a kid he suspected of being a runaway, he called us.” -Enterprise Police Chief and former juvenile probation officer Tim Byrd [Birmingham News, May 14,1992]
Economic Developer and Job Creator: The Dream
“Milton has an infectious personality which is very notable when you first meet him. He is very warm, cheerful, intelligent, and vivacious, but very humble. In my dealing with him in both public and private capacities, I find him to be very straight forward, honest and considerate. He has an unusual sympathetic trait for people who are in need. I have seen him come to the rescue of people in distress, more than once, without any hesitation. He does not need to be pressed into action when circumstances so demand. This is a very unique quality in him.” –Alfonza Menefee, Probate Judge [Personal Letter, May 2011]
Owning a dog track was Milton’s dream born out of vacations to Panama City Beach (90 miles south of Hartford) and passing the dog track in Ebro, Florida.
The dream became a reality when on August 23, 1983 Macon County citizens voted by a 2 to 1 margin to pass a racing bill to help revive the underfunded county and its school system.
ln 1990 horse racing was failing for the second time at the Birmingham Race Course. Milton bought the horse racing track from AmSouth Bank on January 1, 1992 for $19 million. After garnering legislative approval in November of 1992, Milton spent $9.6 million in construction to make the Birmingham Race Course the first track in the United States to offer both horse and greyhound racing (one of only two in the world).
“lt’s a boom to Birmingham to have the race track back with a successful businessman such as Milton McGregor holding the reins. A successful horse/dog racing facility will mean thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue.” [Birmingham Business Journal, April 1992] -Don Newton, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce President
“People have a picture in mind of him as a gambling mogul but McGregor is just a country boy. He grew up in a family of modest means in southern Alabama and he never forgot his old friends.” -Andy Hornsby, Macon County Native and assistant state revenue commissioner under Bob Riley. [The Birmingham News, June 11,2006]
Milton continued to bring economic impact to the area as well as the State of Alabama in 2009 by opening the largest pari-mutuel and Class II charity bingo facility in the world in Shorter, Alabama. In addition he built the area’s only 300 room world-class hotel offering luxurious accommodations and a signature steakhouse. All of the investments by Milton brought great benefits to the State of Alabama and Macon County when VictoryLand became the largest employer in Macon County and the largest payer of sales tax, occupational tax, lodging tax and pari-mutuel tax.
But Milton has never lost the perspective of helping others. He and his companies have given millions of dollars to charities, schools and universities and hundreds of organizations that help people in need.
Above it all, Milton has never forgotten that you give back and leave the world a little better than you found it. You find the good in others and help them when they need help. You look for the silver lining in every cloud. Be positive and optimistic because life is truly good. When you get knocked down, you get back up, dust yourself off and try again while never losing sight of what’s most important in life. Most of all, Milton is thankful for family, friends and all the many blessings God has given him.