Aug. 14, 1923—Dec. 30, 2012
Louis Van Orden Mills, two-term Mayor of Middletown, N.Y.; first elected County Executive of Orange County, N.Y.; and founder and first president of the Orange County Land Trust, died early Sunday morning, Dec. 30, 2012, in Davis, Ca. He was 89.
Elected Mayor of Middletown at age 27, Louis was the youngest mayor in New York State, serving from 1951 to 1955. He was elected for two terms as Orange County’s first County Executive, 1969-1977, and appointed First Vice Chairman of the National Association of Counties where he conferred with Presidents Ford, Nixon and Carter as well as with New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. He retired from public office in 1978 and went on to establish the Orange County Land Trust in 1993. He served as its President for the next 10 years.
Louis was an officer or director of other civic and religious boards in Orange County including Horton Memorial Hospital and the Hillside Cemetery. Louis’ 26-year public service career included: New York State Commission for Riparian Claims on the Neversink River, 1957-58; Advisory Council to the Hudson River Valley Commission, appointed by Governor Nelson Rockefeller, 1965-66; President, Association of New York State County Executives, 1972; Board of Directors, Metropolitan Regional Council, 1972; Vice-President, Mid-Hudson Inter-County Council, 1972; Chairman, Revenue Sharing Sub-Committee, National Association of Counties, 1972; New York State Office of Local Government Advisory Board, 1972.
In addition to public office, Louis maintained a private business practice for 22 years as a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) for Equitable Life, and a licensed real estate broker. He initiated the restoration and redevelopment of several historic properties in Orange County.
Louis attended Middletown public schools and graduated from The Hotchkiss School, received a B.A. degree in business administration from Dartmouth College and an M.A. in government and education from Columbia University. He served on the faculty at Orange County Community College. He was a U.S. Naval Reserve veteran and a member of the American Legion. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Middletown.
Louis’ favorite activities included tennis, skiing, and reading political biographies. His passionate interest in Orange County history led him to write and publish booklets on the Revolutionary War Battle of Fort Montgomery and Middletown’s historic Hillside Cemetery. He obtained a pilot license in the 1960’s and belonged to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Most of all, he enjoyed being around family and friends.
Louis was born on August 14, 1923, to Dr. Samuel Wickham II and Dorothy Van Orden Mills of Middletown, New York. Louis was predeceased by his wife of 61 years, Roberta Arrowsmith Mills, and his brother, Dr. Samuel Wickham Mills III.
Surviving family members include sons Jack (Laura) of Davis, and Louis Jr. (Monica) of Lubbock, Texas; grandchildren John Mills Jr. (Corrine) and Sarah Mills Bowden (Raymond); great-grandsons Justin, Andrew and Ryan Mills; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
Louis resided at University Retirement Community (URC) in Davis, CA for the past five years.
In lieu of flowers, Louis asked that donations be made to the Orange County Land Trust, 10 Mulberry St, Middletown, NY 10940.
A Celebration of Life will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, in the Club Room at University Retirement Community, 1515 Shasta Drive in Davis, CA.