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Obituary: John Michael Mills

Patriarch of large family, successful salesman, sports fan

John Michael (aka Mike) Mills died peacefully on July 18 at his home in Sacramento.

Born in December 1938, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Mike was the second of two children to Robert Mitchell (Mitt) and Edith Mildred (Mimi) Mills. He spent his childhood in Tennessee, where he attended the McCallie School and later went to Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. After college he moved to New York City to begin his long career in sales, initially working for the Phelps Dodge Corporation.

He met Maureen McGinness in 1963, and they were married in February 1964. They soon moved to Minneapolis, where they had their first three children. As his career grew, the family relocated to Ridgewood, New Jersey, where they welcomed four more children. With so many kids, the Mills family made an impression wherever they went, and he could not have been prouder.

After many years in New Jersey, his career led the family to Mountaintop, Pennsylvania, where he worked for the Sterling Industrial Corporation. He was an active father, coaching Little League, participating on the local planning board, shuttling kids to activities, and building lasting friendships with families in the neighborhood. His easygoing charm and familiar warmth made him popular throughout the community and he worked hard to support his wife and children as they advanced in the world.

In 1985 his career led him and Maureen to move the family to Claremont, where they lived happily for 33 years. He quickly took to Southern California living and enjoyed biking trails throughout the Inland Empire and sailing on the Pacific. He built an extensive network of clients and business contacts, representing various companies and selling an array of product lines primarily in the construction and utility sectors. He was a natural salesman and always went the extra mile to provide excellent service to all his clients, which resulted in lasting friendships.

He was an avid sports fan and enjoyed following his favorite teams, Michigan State, UCLA, N.Y. Mets, L.A. Clippers, and the L.A. Dodgers. He was also a keen student of history and could be found most nights reading voluminous books on World War II, the Vietnam and Revolutionary wars and other key moments in American history.

Entering retirement in 2018, the couple moved to Sacramento where they would be closer to their children. After 55 years of marriage, Maureen died in 2019. Since losing her, he found great comfort in spending time with his children, grandchildren, and close friends.

In addition to his wife, he was predeceased by his parents, Robert Mitchell, and Edith Mildred; brother Robert Mitchell Jr.; and son Robert Xavier.

He is survived by his children Jack (Jessica), Susan, David, Matthew (Mine), Thomas (Lia), and Meredith; and grandchildren Henry, Owen, Lukas, Kasper, and Lillian.

Family and friends gathered to honor and celebrate him at a funeral on July 25. He will be greatly missed.

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