April 25, 1941 — September 4, 2018
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Ann Thomas Mills, 77, on September 4, 2018. She died peacefully at home, attended by husband Nelson and children Michelle and Galen.
Ann was born Ann Louise Thomas on April 25, 1941, in Jacksonville, Florida. In 1949, she moved with her family to Norfolk, Virginia, where she attended Granby High School, graduating in 1958. She went on to attend The College of William and Mary, where she was one of few women of her generation to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics in 1962. She was hired as a Systems Engineer at IBM in Norfolk, where one of her main duties included teaching computer programming. In 1964, she met her future husband, Ensign Nelson A. Mills, when he was one of her students in a programming course. Nelson was immediately taken by her, primarily for her intelligence, but also because of her beauty and kindness. They were married in 1966, at the chapel on the Norfolk Naval Base. Later, after Ann had become a middle school teacher, her father Miles — who had an infamous sense of humor — liked to raise eyebrows by telling people she had married one of her students.
In 1967, when Nelson was released from the Navy, the couple moved to Silver Spring, Maryland. There Ann taught middle school and Nelson worked for Control Data Corporation. In 1968, their daughter Michelle was born, and the following year they moved to San Jose, California, with Control Data, where son Galen was born in 1972.
In 1976, the family moved to Corvallis when Nelson took a new job with Hewlett-Packard. Once in Corvallis, Ann completed a Master’s Degree in Math Education at Oregon State University in 1978, and then became a math instructor at Linn-Benton Community College Benton Center. Once at LBCC, Ann worked hard to convert traditional mathematics classroom teaching curriculum into a self-paced lab learning environment. The Math Lab helped students who struggled with math to succeed, with its self-paced format and one-on-one help with concepts and problems whenever needed. Helping so many students who normally struggled to pass the math courses they needed in order to further their educational and life goals was one of her proudest achievements. She was Program Coordinator for the Math Lab until her retirement in 1999.
Ann’s greatest pleasure was spending time with her family. She loved family gatherings and celebrations. She also loved time spent with her many friends. She was an avid reader, and belonged to two book clubs (one of which she founded). She also greatly enjoyed duplicate bridge and played several times a week as a member of the American Contract Bridge League. Friends and family will also remember her as a fierce competitor on Words With Friends. Ann loved to travel and experience new places and cultures.
People who knew Ann knew her as a giver. Among the many volunteer organizations she worked with throughout her lifetime were SHIBA (Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance) and Benton Hospice (renamed Lumina Hospice). It was another hospice organization — Samaritan Evergreen Hospice — who in turn provided wonderful care to her at the end of her life, for which her family will be forever grateful.
Ann was preceded in death by her parents, Miles Harrison Thomas and Mary Birkett Thomas. She is survived by husband Nelson Mills, sister Carolyn (husband Peter) Jones, sister Janet Thomas, daughter Michelle Mills, son Galen (wife Sally) Mills, and grandchildren Anson and Augustus (Gus) Mills, as well as by many cousins, nieces and nephews, and tons of friends.
A memorial celebration of life will be held at the Oregon State University CH2M Hill Alumni Association from 2 to 4 p.m. on September 24. All are welcome to attend. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation in Ann’s name to the Samaritan Pastega Regional Cancer Center, their local hospice organization, or any charitable organization that supports education for the underserved.
Please leave thoughts and condolences at www.mchenryfuneralhome.com.