Billy Mills — a descendant of one of Westport’s oldest families, now in its 10th generation here — died Wednesday. He was 75.
His nephew, Jacques Voris, writes:
Born in Norwalk Hospital at 13 pounds, 13 ounces, Billy grew up on North Avenue in a house his father, Homer Mills, built from materials salvaged from the Bedford family racetrack pavilion in Greens Farms. Billy was like his father: a frugal Yankee who did not let anything “perfectly good” go to waste.
When Billy was young, North Avenue was a narrow dirt road lined with ponds. When it snowed, men plowed it by hand.
He attended Greens Farms Elementary School, Long Lots Junior High School, and was a member of the first class to go all the way through the new Staples High School up the street from his home.
As a teenager he developed what became a lifelong passion for automobiles. He was a member of the legendary Downshifters, a car club that met on Friday nights at the YMCA.
In 1965 Billy married Judith Ann Nelson. They lived in his grandmother’s former house on North Avenue, adjacent to his boyhood home. He renovated the house using bricks from the original Staples High on Riverside Avenue, after it was torn down in 1967. The couple lived there until 2014.
Billy operated a refuse collection business for 15 years. He then worked for his father’s masonry company, Homer Mills & Sons. He left to work for AJ Izzo as a carpenter. Their most notable project was the development of Imperial Landing.
When AJ opened Crossroads Hardware, Billy set out on his own as a carpenter. He earned a reputation for quality work, with many repeat customers. He helped restore the Red Barn for the Nistico family, building the new back bar.
Billy was an immensely generous man, unconcerned with monetary fortune. His wealth was measured by the people who thought highly of him. He was always willing to help. A man might not have 2 nickels to rub together, but Billy would gladly give the shirt off his back. He had a legendary ability to borrow anything, and would just as readily lend.
Billy is survived by his wife of over 50 years, Judith; son Christopher; sister Patricia; brother Homer; grandson Christopher Devon, and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, February 9 (11 a.m., St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Westport).