Written by Linda Mills Wofford
I would have to search far and wide to find a person who influenced my life more than my dad! His story is so interesting and compelling and one that proves he was definitely a part of “the Greatest Generation.”
Harold Boswell Mills, aka “Bobby”, was born on Nov. 13, 1917 in Baird, Texas. He grew up in Big Spring, Texas, and it was there he learned the true meaning of hard work, respect, compassion, loyalty and love of people and animals. And, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his mental and physical toughness – after all, he did play football for Big Spring High School. After college, he married his high school sweetheart, my mom, Francies Lewis Rogers. Sadly, my mom passed away at the young age of 48. They had a rich and wonderful life together raising their three daughters – Sue, Bobbie Nell and myself.
My dad lost his father, Howard Edward “Red” Mills, when he was a young boy of only five. His father was a firefighter for the railroad and perished in a train accident in Sweetwater, Texas. Being an only child, he immediately became the man of the family and lovingly took care of his mother, Mary Alice Mims, until the day she died.
Because of his love of animals, he headed off to Texas A & M University, where he became a member of the Aggie Corps of Cadets. He was the epitome of a true and loyal Aggie. He even insisted that my sisters and I learn the Aggie Fight Song.
He graduated from Texas A & M Veterinary School in 1939. In his words “back when dirt was invented.” He began his career in San Antonio, Texas, before serving in the U.S. Army during WWII.
In the military, while stationed in France and England, he put his Veterinary skills to good use. He treated a pregnant cow for then Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who needed fresh milk for himself and his troops.
While in France, he created a vaccine for a dog suffering from an ongoing eye infection. The dog fully recovered much to the delight of the dog’s owners.
In 1946, he started his Veterinary practice in Midland, Texas – the year I was born. His practice, Mills Veterinary Hospital, located at 2500 W. Ohio Street, became the essence of our life and his livelihood. He treated horses, cattle, dogs and cats. And boy, did he have some funny stories to tell about some of the deliveries of the horses and cattle. He was awakened in the middle of the night, more times than I can count, to go out to the farms and ranches to deliver.
He maintained his practice for 62 years. In addition to his practice, he made daily trips to the city’s animal services division to vaccinate as many animals as came in that day. He would put the “be back soon” sign on his door, grab his doctor’s bag, and drive out to the Texas Animal Control Shelter. Sometimes he did this 2 or 3 times a day. He was always there for them when they needed him. Of course, this was in addition to running his practice 5 1/2 days a week – truly amazing for a 90 year old man.
He quietly passed away in his sleep in September 2008 – two months short of his 91st birthday. Ironically, the weekend he passed, he had attended a continuing education seminar for veterinarians. He never lost his love of learning or teaching or his love of animals and people.
I miss him to this day, and I will always be grateful to him for all that he taught me. Indeed he was and is my hero.