James “Jim” Owen Mills of Queen Creek, Arizona, passed away on February 12, 2020 at the age of 65.
Jim was born in Brewton, Alabama, the only child of Leo and Anne Mills. He graduated from T.R. Miller High School, played football for Jacksonville State, graduated from the University of Montevallo, and received his Master’s in Education from the Florida Institute of Technology.
Jim was a lifelong educator and found his calling teaching middle school students – it’s never boring in the middle, as he would often say. Known as Coach Mills to many, he coached middle school football and basketball and was willing to do almost anything – from kissing pigs to shaving his head – in order to motivate his athletes. Jim had fond memories of all the schools where he taught – Oslo Middle in Vero Beach, FL, as well as Smokey Road Middle and Coweta Central Education Center, both in Newnan, GA – but none more than Sebastian River Middle (Junior) High School in Sebastian, FL, where many of his fellow teachers were also lifelong friends. Jim also had a series of colorful side jobs including golf caddie, seafood transporter, landscaper, and donut maker. Jim had recently moved to Arizona for retirement, but still served as a substitute teacher several days a week.
Jim was a doting father and loving husband, with a big heart and easy laugh. He loved classic rock, 1970s comedians, reading four to five books at the same time, coming up with new ways and things to smoke and grill, and college football – Roll Tide, Roll.
Jim is survived by his wife, Judy Mills of Queen Creek, Arizona, and daughter Julie Mills and son-in-law Daniel Moger III of Hong Kong.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Jim’s name to Positive Coaching Alliance – Arizona Chapter. Jim also loved to reminisce, and in that vein, we invite you to share your favorite Coach Mills or Big Jim memory.