It is with immense sadness we share that Larry Allen Mills passed away on January 8, 2021 at the age of 84 at OHSU in Portland. Larry lived a life dedicated to hard work, service to others, and love of family. His boisterous laugh, keen wit, leadership, and giving spirit will be greatly missed by all that knew him.
Larry was born in Rockford, WA to parents Harold and Mary (Loftin) Mills. He grew up on a farm northeast of Rockford and graduated from Rockford High School. His love of the family farm would play a major role in Larry’s chosen path in life. After graduation, he settled in Spokane with his wife Betty and attended Kinman Business College and worked for Armour and Company in the industrial engineering department. In 1958, Larry went to work for the Odessa Trading Company. His bookkeeping skills led him to eventually be promoted to Assistant Manager.
In 1969, he accepted a position at the Morrow County Grain Growers (MCGG) where his love of working around the farming community resulted in him serving as General Manager for 29 years. During his time at MCGG, he served as the president of the Pacific Northwest Grain and Feed Association and on the board of the National Grain and Feed Association. He was the kind of leader that exists to serve the people. He would never back away from a challenge and wasn’t afraid to make a hard decision, all while carrying himself with humor and humility.
Larry would often say that, “Community service is the rent you pay for the space you occupy on earth.” There is no doubt that Larry’s rent was paid in full. Though the ways in which he served his community are too numerous to list, below is a sampling:
• Morrow County Agricultural Museum board member and volunteer.
• Board member for the Red and Gina Leonard Foundation.
• Interim City Manager in 2005.
• 15 years on the Morrow County Health District Board.
• 25 years of service on the County Budget Committee.
• Served on the Willow Creek Economic Development Board.
• Volunteered to read to children at the Heroes Reading Program after he retired.
• Recognized by the Heppner Beautification Program for work to establish and maintain a welcoming line of shade trees and shrubs to the northwest entrance of town.
• Master of ceremonies for numerous community events including the rodeo, St. Patrick’s Day parade, and of course, the Heppner Mustangs football team. Larry loved football and relished his over 28-years as the voice of the Mustangs.
But even above his dedication to work and community was his dedication to family. Larry and Betty were married for over sixty years and raised two children, Dianne Stickney (Mills) and Michael Mills. Despite a busy schedule, Larry always made time to attend his grandchildren’s sporting games, birthdays, and other significant events. He worked with his brothers Bob and Dan Mills to make sure that their families got together for a family reunion every year--- a tradition almost forty years running, with only one brief interruption in 2020 because of COVID. In the end, above all, was family.
Larry is survived by his loving wife Betty (Jahns) Mills, son Mike and his children Chloe and Chandler, daughter Dianne (Bob) and her children Kellie Hoiland (Zach), Richard Stickney and his children Rebecka, RJ, Mandy, Tiffani, Angelika (Lars), and great great grandchildren Jaxyn, Rhyson, and Amara.
Due to COVID restrictions graveside service will be held for family only at the Rockford Cemetery on Jan. 23 at 1 p.m. A memorial service will be held in Heppner at a later date.
The family has requested that remembrances be made in the form of contributions to the following charities: Pioneer Memorial Foundation, Box 424, Heppner, OR 97836 or to the Farm Foundation, Box 611, Heppner, OR 97836.
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