James Parker Mills Sr. Dies; Related to Longtime Sitkans

Waldo Mills, Betty Mills and Jim Mills in Sitka in 1970s. (Sentinel File Photo)

The Sentinel recently learned that a descendant of a family prominent in Sitka business and civic affairs for over half a century has passed away.

James Parker Mills Sr. died at age 96 on Jan. 14, 2017 at his home in Fresno, Calif.

He was born Feb. 15, 1921, in Sitka, the son of Waldo C. and Florence G. Mills, and grandson of William Parker and Florence Edith Mills.

W.P. Mills, as he was known, had come to Sitka with his parents, William Ritchie and Maryann Cluff Mills in the 1880s.

From that time and up to the start of World War II the Mills family was prominent in Sitka social and commercial life: W.P. Mills owned the largest general store in town, developed the town’s water and electrical power systems, financed other enterprises and served on the school board and the Pioneers Home board of trustees.

Jim Mills and his parents moved to Oakland, California, in the late 1920s. He joined the U.S. Army in 1940 and served in the Pacific theater during World War II. He retired a full colonel in 1976.

After the war, he moved to Eureka, California, where he lived and raised a family. In 1998, Jim and his wife  moved to Palm Desert, California, and in 2013 he went to Fresno, California, to be cared for by  his sons. His wife of 71 years, Bertha (Betty) Jean Mills, died in 2014.

He is survived by his two sons, James Mills Jr. of Fresno and William Mills of Eagle Pass, Texas; two grandchildren, Stephanie Mayhew and Scott Mills; and four great-grandchildren.

Jim and Betty returned to Sitka several times through the years, and donated a number of items to local museums. Jim also continued his grandparents’ financial support of the Sitka Woman’s Club, which received the 1897 cottage next to the library as a gift from the W.P. Mills Company in 1951.

The family prepared an obituary for the Sentinel at the time of his passing, but it was accidentally misdirected and only now has come to the newspaper’s attention. In the obituary the family asked that memorial donations be made to the Sitka Historical Society and Museum.

Login Form



July 2004
Photo caption: Junior League All Stars will compete in a tournament in Wrangell. From left are Bryn Calhoun, Chris Scott, Sean O’Neill, Ross Venneberg, Caleb McGraw, Richard Carlos, Jacob Houston, Coby McCarty, Bryan Lovett and Daniel Erickson.


July 1974

Photo caption: Volunteers leave the Yaw Building Library with loads of books being transferred to the new Orin and Betty Stratton Library on the Sheldon Jackson campus. SJC librarian Evelyn Bonner expressed appreciation to the community for the help.


Local Events


Daily Sitka Sentinel on Instagram!


Daily Sitka Sentinel on Facebook!