Richard 'Rick' David Mills


Posted: Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Kake resident Richard "Rick" David Mills, 43, died in a boating accident.

A memorial service was held in Juneau at Chapel by the Lake on Jan. 5. Memorial services in Kake were held at 7 p.m. Jan. 6 in the Community Building. Funeral services and a Thank You Dinner for Gery Davies and Rick and David Mills will be held today in Kake on Wat the same location. For more information, contact Jennifer in Juneau at 790-4806 or Isabel in Kake at 785-3299.

He was born Oct. 1, 1960, in El Paso, Texas, to Cecilia Patricia Cavanaugh Mills and Elmo Kay Mills Sr. He was born into the Was'eeneidi Clan and given his Tlingit name, Gaandein, by his aunt, Josephine Paul. The family lived at Fort Lewis in Washington before returning to Kake, where he spent his childhood. He graduated as valedictorian from Kake High School in 1978.

After high school, he attended Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., for four years. He was very active in wrestling, football and drama. Returning to Kake after his father's death, he worked for Kake Tribal Logging, commercially fished and worked for Kake City Schools as an assistant accountant. He graduated from Pacific in 1985 with a bachelor's in mathematics and returned to the University of Alaska Southeast to fulfill his dream of becoming a teacher in the community he loved.

In 1984, he met and courted Judith Joanne Woods, Kake's kindergarten teacher. He married Judy on Nov. 27, 1985. Together they had four children, Patricia RaeAnne, Richard David Kay, Jonathan Hauoli and Chelsea Jo.

He began teaching at Kake High School in the fall of 1986. In addition to mathematics, he taught native arts, auto mechanics, Alaska history, health, band, drama and computer technology. He was the driving force behind the development of the wrestling program, serving as the high school and junior high school coach for most of the 18 years he taught in the Kake City School District.

This summer, he was completing his master's in school administration from Seattle Pacific University and was due to graduate. He served as an elder in the Tlingit community, often spoke at the Presbyterian Church, was elected to the Kake City Council and was a president of the Kake Education Association. He also coached boys' high school basketball for two years. He was recently named Kake City School Athletic Director.

"Rick was always there," said family members, "If you needed something done, he was your man. He never said no. ... Family was very important to Rick. He made everyone who entered his home a part of his family."

He was preceded in death by his son, David; mother; father; niece, Brittany Grace Mills; and nephew, Scotty Kay Jackson.

He is survived by his wife, "JJ;" three children, "AnnaRae," "Donny Boy" and his "Little Red Caboose;" sisters, Patty Kay Mills and Pamela Jo Lopez; brothers, Mark (Linda) Mills, Elmo Kay Mills Jr., Robert (Isabel) Dell Mills and Ronald Dell Mills; mother-in-law and father-in-law, Bonnie and Richard Woods; sisters-in-law, Cheryl (Tony) Tabor, Becky (Larry) Lamb, Peggy (Myron) Igtanloc; and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and friends.

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