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Donna Mills Obituary

Donna Mills

Dr. Donna Mills, Emeritus Professor of Health Education, Southern Oregon University, passed away on May 30th. Dr. Mills served the university for 25 years, as faculty member in Health Education and later Chair of Health and Physical Education. Diagnosed with a nonmalignant meningioma in 2013, Donna retired from SOU in 2014 and spent her remaining years traveling with her husband and soulmate Dr. Geoffrey Mills, Emeritus Professor of Education.

Born Donna Jeanne Brown on September 17, 1953 in Norfolk, Virginia, Donna was the second of three children to Dr. Milton Brown and Catherine Brown. Donna's childhood was spent traveling to naval bases where Dr. Brown was a Naval Captain, including a memorable two years in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After leaving the navy, Dr. Brown moved his family to Buffalo, NY and this is where Donna considered home during her middle school and high school years.

Donna received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Mary's College of Notre Dame and went on to complete her M.Ed and Ph.D. at the University of Oregon. In addition to her many years chairing the Health and Physical Education Department at Southern Oregon University, Donna served on countless university committees and was a loyal supporter of Raider Athletics.

Donna loved to travel, and her favorite place on earth was Glacier National Park, Montana, where she would spend many days hiking back-country trails, especially to her beloved Iceberg Lake. In addition, she made many trips to Australia and Europe. She was drawn to mountains and lakes and loved the Jungfrau region of the Swiss Alps, particularly the mountain village of Wengen.

Donna was a teacher and coach. She started her teaching career in South Bend, Indiana working with special needs students and continued that passion for many years teaching special education in Spokane, Washington. She loved being a college professor and was a kind and supportive mentor to her colleagues and a tireless advocate and advisor for her students. She viewed teaching and advising as privileges rather than obligations, and was deeply loved by her students for whom she had a significant and long-lasting impact. Donna was also a passionate figure skating coach and worked with skaters from the ages of 2-70 at The RRRink in Medford, Oregon.

Donna is survived by her husband Dr. Geoffrey Mills, her son Jonathan Mills, sister Dr. Carole Knuth and brother Dr. David Brown.

A celebration of life will be held August 29 (if Covid-19 guidelines safely allow for crowds). Memorial contributions in Donna's memory may be made to the Southern Oregon University Foundation Donna B. Mills Scholarship to support international student athletes. Donations can be made online at (select "other" in the designation box and then enter Dr. Donna B. Mills Scholarship or send a check to the SOU Foundation at Plunkett Center, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd. Ashland, OR 97520.

For more information, contact: Jeanne Stallman, Executive Director, Outreach and Engagement,

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