January 25, 2010
John Alton Mills, Sr.
John Alton Mills, Sr. passed away January 25, 2010 in the Inpatient Hospice Unit of Midland Memorial Hospital.
He was born February 23, 1932 in Galesburg, Illinois to Lewis Craig Mills and Jesse Carlton Mills. As a young boy, he lived in Texarkana, Texas, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Augusta, Georgia before settling in Lubbock, Texas where he began first grade. He attended Lubbock schools except for one year when he attended Highland Park High School in Dallas. He graduated from Lubbock High School in 1947 where he played football and then attended Texas Tech University where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1951. He was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. While at Tech, his friends fondly bestowed upon him the nickname of Moose. He was a member of the winning all-college intramural basketball team, and also played city league softball during his years at Tech and as a young man in Midland.
He married Frances Cox (shown with John, in the photo above) on December 27, 1951 and started his career in crude oil purchasing and sales with the Texas Company in Midland on June 1, 1952. He spent 11 years with Texaco. In the following years he formed his own crude oil company which he later sold. He opened an office in Midland for Western Crude Oil where he was vice president. Later, he formed Lantern Petroleum with Cy Wagner and Jack Brown. The company was sold 21 years later to Cornerstone Propane where he was a consultant. In 2002, he and his son, Steve, formed a new company, LPC Crude, where he continued to work until his death.
He was a charter member of Westminster Presbyterian Church, now Trinity Presbyterian, and later joined First Presbyterian Church where he served as a deacon and an elder. He served as president of the Midland High Bulldog Booster Club, Chairman of the Young Life Committee, vice president of Texas Tech Ex Students Association, Midland Chair of the Chancellor's Council at Texas Tech, trustee and member of the Board of Governors of the Museum of the Southwest, member of the Board of Trustees of Midland Community Theatre, board member of the Midland Council on Alcoholism, president of the Permian Basin Crude Oil Association, president of The Racquet Club, and a member of the Board of Directors of The Petroleum Club.
John was a longtime and generous supporter of MC. Noting that, "Midland College is a leader and an integral part of all these things that make Midland the city it has become," he and Frances made very generous donations to the Mills Family Endowed Scholarship, the Vangie Lindsey Painting Scholarship, the Chaparral Center Renovation Fund and many others.
John and Frances bought and restored the oldest guest ranch in Colorado, the 7W Guest Ranch in Sweetwater, and ran it for several years. During that time he acquired land in the Sweetwater Valley where the guest ranch was located. After selling the guest ranch, they built a house there and continued to ranch and spend time in Colorado with family and friends as he had every summer as a youth on his mother's family ranch in eastern Colorado.
He is survived by his wife and children; John Mills, Jr and wife, Tammy, of Houston and their children, Morgan Mills and Dillon Mills; Melinda Williamson and children, Claire Williamson and George Williamson; and Steve Mills and wife, Dodie, and their children, Talia Mills, Micah Mills, and Kalin Harvard. He is also survived by a sister, Marion Lutkins, of Casper, Wyoming and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents and his brother, Dr. Lewis Craig Mills of Philadelphia.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Vangie Lindsey Painting Scholarship at Midland College. You may also consider a contribution to the college's Court of Honor. You can call the Foundation office at (432) 685-4526 for more information. If you wish to make an online donation, visit Give a Gift, or you can mail your donation to:
MIDLAND COLLEGE FOUNDATION, INC.
3600 N. GARFIELD · MIDLAND, TX 79705