R.A. Mills, 90, of Albany, Oregon, died on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, after a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis.
While on a cycling trip in 1988, Mills rescued a 74-year-old woman from burning after a mechanical malfunction started a fire in her van. Mills, 56, immediately went to the passenger side of the van, extended his hands and arms through the opened door, and grasped the woman. Flames flared up from the underside of the van, burning them both as Mills pulled her free. Mills and the woman’s husband helped her away from the van before it was totally engulfed by flames. Mills suffered burns to his legs and a strained back. He recovered. He was awarded the Carnegie Medal the following year.
In 1932, Arthur and Bessie Mills welcomed their son. Mills grew up in Independence, Oregon, and graduated from Independence High in 1950. He then went on to graduate from Oregon Technical Institute in 1953.
Near the end of the Korean War, Mills joined the U.S. Army. He served from 1953 to 1956 and was involved with the development of the Army’s rocket program.
In 1955, Beverly Peterson and Richard Mills were married in Monmouth, Oregon. Before settling down in Oregon to raise their four children, they lived in Texas and California.
Mills worked as a machinist at Rem/Gemini Metals until his retirement in 1994. Since then, he enjoyed traveling in his motorhome and helping with his many grandkids.
Faith was also important to Mills. He was a longtime member of Eastside Christian Church in Albany.
He also enjoyed woodworking and bike riding. Mills began participating in Cycle Oregon rides in 1988 and went on to complete five more excursions.
Mills was also a dedicated member of the Boy Scouts of America. He earned his Eagle rank in 1948. Throughout his life, Mills assisted the organization wherever he lived until settling back in Albany. He worked many years with Troop 91, later known as Troop 100, as a leader, mentor, and record-keeper for a total of 75 years of service.
In 2018, he attended the “Honor Flight” with other veterans to Washington, D.C.
He is survived by his wife; sons, Marty, Tim, and Greg; daughter, Jeanie; 11 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
Mills was preceded in death by his half-sister, Beverly Shirokov.