Millard Cope, newspaper publisher, was born on December 31, 1905, to James A. and Hattie B. (Parkerson) Cope in Sonora, Texas, where at the age of twelve he began working for the local newspaper setting type by hand for a nickel a stick (about two column inches). As a student at Sonora High School he was elected the first chairman of the executive board of the Texas High School Press Association when it was organized at Baylor University in 1922. In 1925, during his third year at Howard Payne College, he was elected president of the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association. He received his bachelor's degree in journalism in 1927 after a senior year at the University of Missouri, where he covered the state capitol for the student newspaper. In 1958 he was Howard Payne "Man of the Year," and in 1959 he received the University of Missouri's Honor Award for Distinguished Service to Journalism.
After graduating he joined the staff of the San Angelo Morning Times, newly begun in 1927 by Houston Harte, as a morning edition of the San Angelo Standard. His next assignment, from 1930 to 1936, was as publisher of the Sweetwater Reporter when it was purchased by Harte and Bernard Hanks of Abilene (see HARTE-HANKS COMMUNICATIONS). After its sale he was assigned to the Dallas office of the Texas Daily Press League, from where in 1940 he went to Denison as publisher of the Denison Herald. In January 1945 he was made publisher of the News Messenger in Marshall, where he remained for seventeen years and where his service to journalism brought him to national attention. He was director of the Associated Press (1959–64) and president of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association (1957). By appointment of Governor Allan Shivers in 1953 and reappointment by Governor Price Daniel in 1959 he was a founding director of what is now the Texas Historical Commission and of the Texas Historical Foundation. In 1956 he served as a member of the Texas Commission on Higher Education, with supervisory responsibility over eighteen Texas institutions of higher learning. Governor Daniel also appointed him a member of the Texas Civil War Centennial Commission, for which service he received an award from the national commission. In 1963 President John F. Kennedy appointed him to the national advisory council for the Peace Corps. Cope became publisher of the San Angelo Standard-Times in August 1962.
During his many years as publisher of small Texas dailies Cope discovered and trained a number of young men and women who went on to establish national reputations of their own. Most notable of these were brothers James and Bill Moyers of Marshall, Lloyd May (Cissy) Stewart of Cleburne, and Jack Maguire of Denison. Although Cope did not openly profess a party affiliation, he was a conservative. Bill Moyers, who named his older son Cope, later wrote of his mentor, "In a way he was to small-town publishing in the 40s and 50s what William Allen White was to small-town editing, although White's reputation spread through his writing, and Millard's through personal character." Cope married Margaret Kilgore of San Angelo on December 12, 1931. They had a son and a daughter. He was a Presbyterian. He died on January 4, 1964, and was buried in San Angelo.