Robert James (R.J.) Mills was born to Ed and Avis Mills in Ansley, Aug. 8, 1922. R.J. was raised on his parent's farm near Weissert with his younger brothers, Leonard and Gerald. R.J. attended grade school at Weissert. He graduated from Westerville High School in 1940.
R.J. was drafted during World War II. He served as a Corporal in the U.S. Army Air Corp -Squadron 388. R. J. was stationed in Tedford, England for two years. He flew on campaigns in Central Europe, Northern France, Normandy, Ardennes, Rhine-land and Air Offensive Europe as a gunner. His duties included cleaning, inspecting and repairing armament on B-17 aircraft.
He loaded bombs, installed guns, completed necessary adjustments and maintenance of aircraft. He was always relieved to see the White Cliffs of Dover on his return missions.
R.J. married Margie Ming July 18, 1945, in Kearney, while home on furlough. He was discharged in September, 1945. Upon his return, he began his farming career, making their first home by R.J.'s parents farmstead near Weissert. They lived there until March 1953, when they purchased their farm east of Broken Bow.
He raised cattle and farmed there for nearly 55 years. R.J. and Margie raised four children; Morris, Audrey, Arlene and Roberta.
R.J. took pride in his country, farm and family. He will be remembered for his resourcefulness and strong work ethic. When R.J. was not working in the fields or feeding cattle he always had jobs waiting in his shop. He took life's daily struggles in stride. He never faltered and rarely took a day off. There were always chores to do: cattle to feed, corn to grind, hay to haul before starting the day's work. R.J. believed "work is good". This was his legacy to his family.
In February 2008, due to health concerns, R.J. and Margie resided at Haven Manor in Hickman, to be closer to family. R.J. never forgot Custer County and his farm. After Margie's death, his new friends helped brighten his days.
We will cherish the memories of his past: earning $2 a day for putting up hay, riding his horse, Babe to school, getting his first car and his World War II experiences. We will all miss the familiar sight of R.J's overalls, boots, cap or western hat.
He loved to tease, romp and play with his children and grandchildren. He always had a stick of Juicy Fruit gum, tobacco cans filled with corn, rides on his horse and four-wheeler for all of his grandkids. We enjoyed his good beef. He loved visits with his neighbors and longtime friends.
R.J. is survived by his children, son Morris of Lincoln, Audrey Eastman of Topeka, and husband Andy, daughter Arlene O'Neill of Grand Island and husband John, and daughter Roberta Morrison of Lincoln and husband Steve; grandchildren, Bryan Eastman, Nathan and Shannon Eastman, Patrick and Tiffany O'Neill, Ryan and Kiley O'Neill, Jamie and Shane Ligon, Robert Morrison, Jeff Morrison; great-grandchildren, Mallory and Nolan Eastman, Alexis Gosda, James and Kaylee Ligon; brother, Leonard and wife Vall Gene of Idaho; sister-in-law, Peggy Mills of Broken Bow; brother-in-law, Don Runyan of Indiana, and nieces, nephews and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Margie; parents, Ed and Avis, and brother Gerald.
Funeral services were Monday, Jan. 17, 2011, at Govier Brothers Mortuary in Broken Bow with the Rev. Todd Karges officiating. Interment will be in the Westerville Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to the Westerville Cemetery.