Mills selected Citizen of the Year

Published 8:34 am Monday, May 4, 2015

Frances Mills takes volunteerism to an entirely different level. In recognition of this quality, among other, Mills was selected as the 2014 Bogalusa Citizen of the Year.

Mills was selected for the honor on Thursday at The Daily News office by a group of past Citizen of the Year honorees.

After voting was completed, 2014 recipient Johni Miles Blount contacted Mills by phone to relay the news of her selection. Mills was attending an International Perfume Bottle Collectors Convention in Spartanburg, S.C., with her daughter, Emily. Johnson.

“What?” Mills asked surprisingly after being informed of her selection. “Oh, my goodness. I can’t believe this.”

Past recipient Beverly Sheridan leaned in to offer her congratulations to Mills.

“Thank you, Beverly, but I haven’t done anything like you have,” Mills said.

On Friday morning, Mills said she hadn’t come down from the clouds.

“I’m still surprised,” Mills said. “It’s real exciting. It’s a great honor, one that I don’t think I’m deserving of, but I will accept it.”

Mills said she felt the honor would be awarded to someone in the community more visible.

“I was very surprised by the honor. Usually the honor goes to someone who has done something really exceptional during the year. I haven’t done anything exceptional except for my regular volunteer work. I think the committee was maybe thinking of what I have done through the years. Maybe it will encourage other people to volunteer. That is what I am hoping,” she said.

First Presbyterian Church, Our Lady of the Angels Hospital and Westminster Woods Apartments are special places to her.

Mills is an active member of the First Presbyterian’s Friendship Circle and is a choir member. She is known to be one of the first arrivals for each Wednesday morning’s prayer breakfast, where she can be found cooking eggs for the participants.

“The church is very close to my heart,” Mills said. “I’ve always been involved in my church work. Your church grounds you and gives you strength to do things in your life. My church family is very important to me.”

Mills’ late husband, Jack Mills, served on the hospital board.

“I’ve always been close to the hospital,” Mills said. “I was on the board in years past, but now I’m just volunteer.”

Westminster Woods is an independent living facility for senior citizens. The Louisiana Synod sponsors Westminster Woods. She has served on the Westminster Board since it began in 1997. She has been board president for the last two years.

Mills also played a key role in Bogalusa’s recent Centennial Celebration and served on the Tour of Homes Committee.

Mills has been a member of the Civic League since 1951 and is currently a sustaining member. Additionally, she was a founding member of the Bogalusa Medical Center Auxiliary, now known as the Pink Ladies.

She has served on the YWCA Board, Campfire Board of Directors and Bogalusa Community Medical Center. She has been a member of Ingleside Literary Society since the 1950s.

After retiring as manager from the Coca-Cola plant, Mills worked for 10 years with the Bogalusa Heart Study. She also worked at the Bogalusa City School Board.

“Since I live alone and all my children are grown, I love to be out in the public with people,” Mills said. “I enjoy my time volunteering. There is so much that needs to be done in the city.”

Her late husband passed away in 1975. Along with Emily, living children include a son, John, who lives in Michigan, and another daughter, Linda, who lives in Covington. A daughter, Susan Wood, passed away from cancer, but she and her husband, the late Terry Wood, left Mills with two grandchildren, John Mason Wood and Melissa Wood.

Mills said the International Perfume Bottle Collectors Convention is therapeutic.

“I just love glass. Through the years I would have beautiful perfume bottles that you couldn’t throw away. The convention has been a learning experience with a lot of nice people to be around,” she said.

Mills grew up in Texas and moved to Bogalusa in the 1940s.

It seems quite a few recent Bogalusa Citizen of the Year honorees have happened to be out of town at the time they were notified of their selection.

“Maybe that helped me win,” Mills said. “It’s just really an honor, and I appreciate the committee that selected me.”