Harry Lee Mills, Jr.

Harry Lee Mills, Jr. passed away peacefully at home on May 8, 2023.
Harry was born on September 17, 1944 in Huntsville, Alabama to Harry Lee Mills, Sr. and Florence Barnett Mills.

Harry grew up in many places, including Tampa, Florida, El Paso and Amarillo, Texas, and Biloxi, Mississippi, thanks to being a military child.

Harry was the first in his family to go to college, partially supported by scholarships for leading a debate team. He decided that he wanted a career focused on helping people in some way, and so he went to graduate school in clinical psychology. Along the way, he met a smart and brave woman named Joyce Reynolds and fell in love. They married on May 20, 1972. Joyce supported Harry as he finished up his PhD training at the University of Southern Mississippi, and they both loved to share the story that he wouldn’t have graduated without her support, including typing his dissertation for him. This laid the groundwork for their partnership.

His career in clinical psychology spanned decades. Along the way, he did many different things related to mental health care, including consulting, private practice, emergency psychiatric care, and nursing home care. He was honored by the Florida Hospital Altamonte Emergency Center for his service. He also loved teaching, heading a Behavioral Medicine and Biofeedback Clinic that was the primary placement for Vanderbilt doctoral students and teaching courses at the University of Central Florida as well as online with several different universities. In general, he felt passionately about improving access to mental health care, and he found opportunities to work directly with people to be the most rewarding of his career. His concerns about others extended beyond his occupation: he was involved with civil right activities In Mississippi, and for a period of time, he and his wife led a group foster home for youth.

Throughout his life, one of Harry’s favorite things to do was read. His house was filled with bookshelves with books of every topic you could imagine, from psychology and religion to World War II stories and Native American history. He also loved listening to music, most of which was popular in the 1950s and 1960s, an era he always found to be important. For most of his life, he was passionate about running, and he completed the Disney Marathon in 1995. He also loved nature. When he lived in Nashville, he loved going with his daughters to Radner Lake. In Florida, he would spend many hours running, walking, or meditating in Wekiva Springs and Lake Lotus Park. He and his family loved visiting the space centers in Huntsville and Cape Canaveral, and space exploration was a lifelong interest. He liked watching movies with his family, including watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” at Christmas, his favorite holiday. He loved eating good food with family, and he never said no to dessert. He was extremely fond of animals, from his childhood dog Shep to many Pomeranians; when he became ill, his Pomeranian, Frosty, was a wonderful companion.

Overall, though, Harry (also known as Papa) was most proud of his family. His wife, Joyce, supported him through sickness and health for over 50 years. He loved being a father and called his daughters “Cisco Kid” and “Monkey Shiner”. He also loved being a grandfather.

Harry is survived by his wife, Joyce Mills; their daughter, Candice Mills, son-in-law James Detzel, and grandsons Leander and Lochlan Detzel; and their daughter, Courtney Wells, son-in-law Rich Wells, and granddaughter Riley.

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