Our beloved husband and father, Alvin “Al” Dean Mills, 86, of Otter Rock, Oregon, passed from this life on July 25, 2019 after a long battle with congestive heart disease. Al was born to loving parents, George and Doris Mills, on June 7, 1933, in Long Beach, California. Growing up with a father away serving in the military for several months at a time created a close relationship between Al and his mother, Doris. As an only child, he spent many hours entertaining himself and playing outside. He took an interest in working with animals at an early age, and one of his favorite jobs later on was conducting museum classes and presentations to youth involving the animals he had trained. Al attended Junior and Senior High School in South Gate, California. During those years he could be found on outdoor explorations with adventurous friends in and around Los Angeles in a kinder, gentler era. He spoke fondly of days spent riding horseback through the flowing, tree-lined Los Angeles river and riding bicycles out to play at the ocean.
Shortly before turning 18, Al joined the National Guard followed by two years in the US Navy as an Optician stationed out of San Diego, California. After completing his Bachelor’s degree in 1957 at Oregon State University, he went to work in Water Quality Control for the state of Washington in Olympia. He developed a strong passion and concern for marine biology and water ecology focusing on the health of state fisheries. The following years were spent with the US Forest Service as a Fisheries Biologist in Corvallis, Oregon, and Orem, Utah. Al’s final career move before retiring was to Alabama working for B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society) as the Environmental Director. From that time forward he carried with him a love of the South.
Al had a tender heart and absolutely despised goodbyes. Family members and friends would often seek his counsel, and when a grandchild mispronounced his name as “grandpa Owl” it kind of stuck! He spent his life providing a good living and support for his family. He was an avid outdoorsman and loved to go fishing, hiking, camping, backpacking, bird watching, kayaking, snorkeling, and diving. Along with being an excellent writer he was also skilled at woodworking, drawing, and stained glass.
Al was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He held firm to his beliefs and enjoyed sharing them with others whenever invited. Excellent communication skills were of the utmost importance to him and he worked on improving those skills throughout his life. His favorite compliment was that of being a good listener. But at the same time, family, friends, and anyone standing close enough might have to excuse themselves to get on with life during one of his lengthy stories or dissertations. Al’s final days were spent at the Avamere Rehabilitation Facility in Newport, Oregon, where he was lovingly attended to by family, amazing caregivers, and staff.
Al is survived by his wife of 45 years, Anna May Mills, three biological daughters, Shoshana (Lora) Doermer, Deborah Hardy, Kimberley Nye, adopted daughters Georgina Haertel, Sherrie Haertel, step-daughter Bev Geer, step-son Kenneth Lassche, and many precious grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
All friends and family are invited to attend a viewing at 10:00 AM on Monday, August 5, 2019, at the Bateman Funeral Home, 915 NE Yaquina Heights Dr, Newport, Oregon. The viewing will be followed by a graveside service with Navy funeral honors held at Twin Oaks Cemetery, 34275 Riverside Dr. SW, Albany, Oregon, at 1:30 PM (with no funeral procession during vehicle transport to cemetery). In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in the name of Alvin Mills to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon.
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