Ada Mills

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Ada Mills
Ada Belle Parks

(1912-03-04)March 4, 1912
DiedSeptember 30, 2001(2001-09-30) (aged 89)
Resting placeOakland Cemetery in Clarksville, Arkansas
Alma materUniversity of the Ozarks
Political activist
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Joe B. Mills (married 1933-1997, his death)
ChildrenJim Pat Mills

Joanie McCleskey

Mary Tom Riley-O'Bar

Ada Belle Parks Mills (March 4, 1912 – September 30, 2001)[1] was a Republican political activist in the U.S. state of Arkansas. In 1980 she was the only delegate initially committed to the candidacy for president of former Governor John B. Connally, Jr., of Texas. Connally spent some $11 million in his 13-month primary campaign, which ended in withdrawal following his loss to Ronald W. Reagan of California in the South Carolina primary. Mrs. Mills received brief national media attention as the "$11 million delegate." [2]

Civic and business activities[edit]

Mills was born in Prairie Grove, Arkansas which is located in the northwestern part of the state in Washington County. Her parents were Clifford Parks and Belle Simmons. Mills actively promoted her alma mater, The University of the Ozarks, which is located in Clarksville, Arkansas. She graduated from University of the Ozarks in 1931. In 1933, Mills and her husband were the first people to be wedded at the newly established chapel on the University of the Ozarks campus. She held the position of alumni organization president for the university's alumni association for a long time. Mills also served as a member of the board of trustees, and was awarded a honorary doctorate from the university in 1970.[3]

Joe and Ada Mills founded and operated Ozark Hardwood Manufacturing Company, Mills Oil Company, Ozark Box and Crating Corporation, and Ozark Hardwood Lumber Company. They also operated F&M Box and Crating Corporation in Caney in Montgomery County in southeastern Kansas, and the Texas Container Corporation in Texarkana, Arkansas. In 1973, Mrs. Mills received the Small Business Administration "Businessperson of the Year" award. She served on numerous local, state, and national business commissions.[3]

For more than four decades, she spearheaded the campaign to build a replacement bridge on Arkansas Highway 109 over the Arkansas River between Clarksville and the community of Morrison Bluff in Logan County. The since-named Ada Mills Bridge is the longest such span in the state of Arkansas.[3]

Political matters[edit]

In 1972, Mills was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, in which she joined the unanimous Arkansas members in ratifying the renomination of the Nixon-Agnew ticket.[4]

Eight years later, she committed initially to Nixon's former treasury secretary, John Connally, before finally joining her Arkansas delegation to support the Reagan-Bush ticket, which prevailed in Arkansas. The original Arkansas count had been seven for Reagan, four for U.S. Senator Howard Baker, Jr., of Tennessee, two for Bush, five uncommitted, and Mills' backing of Connally. Along with Mills, the Arkansas delegation at the 1980 convention, which met in Detroit, Michigan, included U.S. Representatives John Paul Hammerschmidt and Edwin R. Bethune, party chairman Lynn Lowe, national committeeman Harlan "Bo" Holleman, and party legal counsel James Burnett.[5][6]

In 2000, she was awarded the Republican Party's Eagle Award for fifty years of work for the two-party system in historically Democratic Arkansas.[3]

Death and family[edit]

Mills died at her Clarksville residence at the age of eighty-nine. She was survived by a son, Jim Pat Mills of Clarksville; two daughters and sons-in-law, Joanie and husband Lee McCleskey of College Station, Texas, and Mary Tom Riley-O'Bar and husband Clyde O'Bar of Lubbock, Texas; seven grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.[3] Like his mother, Jim Pat Mills is active in the Arkansas Republican Party, serving as the Johnson County state committeeman.[7]

Services were held on October 4, 2001, at the Raymond Munger Memorial Chapel at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville with six officiating ministers, including then Governor Mike Huckabee. Joe and Ada Mills are interred at Oakland Cemetery in Clarksville.[3]


  1. ^ "Social Security Death Index". Retrieved September 8, 2010.
  2. ^ "Adieu, Big John". Time magazine, March 24, 1980. March 24, 1980. Retrieved September 8, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Ada Mills". The Johnson County (Arkansas) Graphic," October 2001. Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved September 8, 2010.
  4. ^ "Ada Mills". Retrieved September 8, 2010.
  5. ^ Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, February 23, 1980, p. 572; July 12, 1980, p. 1928
  6. ^ Arkansas Outlook Republican Party newspaper, March 1979
  7. ^ "State Republican Committee Members Listing". Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved September 8, 2010.