Ada Mills

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Ada Mills
Born

Ada Belle Parks
(1912-03-04)March 4, 1912
Prairie Grove
Washington County

Arkansas, USA
Died September 30, 2001(2001-09-30) (aged 89)
Clarksville, Johnson County, Arkansas
Alma mater University of the Ozarks
Occupation Businesswoman
Political activist
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Joe B. Mills (married 1933-1997, his death)
Children

Jim Pat Mills
Joanie McCleskey

Mary Tom Riley-O'Bar

Ada Belle Parks Mills (March 4, 1912 – September 30, 2001)[1] was a Republican political activist in the U.S. state of Arkansas who in 1980 was the only delegate initially committed to the candidacy for president of former Governor John B. Connally, Jr., of Texas. Connally spent some $11 million in his 13-month primary campaign, which ended in withdrawal following his loss to Ronald W. Reagan of California in the South Carolina primary. Mrs. Mills received brief national media attention as the "$11 million delegate." [2]

Civic and business activities[edit]

Mills was born in Prairie Grove in Washington County in northwestern Arkansas to Clifford Parks and the former Belle Simmons. She was an active promoter of her alma mater, the Presbyterian-affiliated University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, the county seat of Johnson County, Arkansas. She graduated from the institution in 1931, and two years later, she and her husband, Joe B. Mills (1909–1997),[1] were the first to be married in the then newly opened chapel on the campus. She was a long-term president of the university's alumni association, a member of its board of trustees, and in 1970 was awarded an honorary doctorate.[3]

Joe and Ada Mills founded and operated Ozark Hardwood Manufacturing Company, Mills Oil Company, Ozark Box and Crating Corporation, and Ozark Hardwood Lumber Company. They also operated F&M Box and Crating Corporation in Caney in Montgomery County in southeastern Kansas, and the Texas Container Corporation in Texarkana, Arkansas. In 1973, Mrs. Mills received the Small Business Administration "Businessperson of the Year" award. She served on numerous local, state, and national business commissions.[3]

For more than four decades, she spearheaded the campaign to build a replacement bridge on Arkansas Highway 109 over the Arkansas River between Clarksville and the community of Morrison Bluff in Logan County. The since-named Ada Mills Bridge is the longest such span in the state of Arkansas.[3]

Political matters[edit]

In 1972, Mills was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, in which she joined the unanimous Arkansas members in ratifying the renomination of the Nixon-Agnew ticket.[4]

Eight years later, she committed initially to Nixon's former treasury secretary, John Connally, before finally joining her Arkansas delegation to support the Reagan-Bush ticket, which prevailed in Arkansas. The original Arkansas count had been seven for Reagan, four for U.S. Senator Howard Baker, Jr., of Tennessee, two for Bush, five uncommitted, and Mills' backing of Connally. Along with Mills, the Arkansas delegation at the 1980 convention, which met in Detroit, Michigan, included U.S. Representatives John Paul Hammerschmidt and Edwin R. Bethune, party chairman Lynn Lowe, national committeeman Harlan "Bo" Holleman, and party legal counsel James Burnett.[5][6]

In 2000, she was awarded the Republican Party's Eagle Award for fifty years of work for the two-party system in historically Democratic Arkansas.[3]

Death and family[edit]

Mills died at her Clarksville residence at the age of eighty-nine. She was survived by a son, Jim Pat Mills of Clarksville; two daughters and sons-in-law, Joanie and husband Lee McCleskey of College Station, Texas, and Mary Tom Riley-O'Bar and husband Clyde O'Bar of Lubbock, Texas; seven grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.[3] Like his mother, Jim Pat Mills is active in the Arkansas Republican Party, serving as the Johnson County state committeeman.[7]

Services were held on October 4, 2001, at the Raymond Munger Memorial Chapel at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville with six officiating ministers, including then Governor Mike Huckabee. Joe and Ada Mills are interred at Oakland Cemetery in Clarksville.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved September 8, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Adieu, Big John". Time magazine, March 24, 1980. March 24, 1980. Retrieved September 8, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Ada Mills". The Johnson County (Arkansas) Graphic," October 2001. Retrieved September 8, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Ada Mills". politicalgraveyard.com. Retrieved September 8, 2010. 
  5. ^ Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, February 23, 1980, p. 572; July 12, 1980, p. 1928
  6. ^ Arkansas Outlook Republican Party newspaper, March 1979
  7. ^ "State Republican Committee Members Listing". arkansasgop.org. Retrieved September 8, 2010.