Denver L. Mills:
A Rich Life
December 30, 1930
May 7, 2022
Community leader, professional engineer, and family man Denver L. Mills, 91, died on Saturday, May 7, 2022, after building a rich life full of love. Born in Quinton, Oklahoma, on December 30, 1930, he was one of nine children born to Thomas A. Mills and Delora (Beck) Mills, an enrolled member of the Choctaw tribe. His family, which included seven older siblings and eventually one younger sister, was poor but loving. He was nicknamed “Dibs” by his older brothers and sisters claiming turns to hold him as a baby.
Denver was the first in his family to graduate high school in Chandler, AZ, where he met the love of his life, Jackie. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1950 during the Korean War. During a leave at home in Arizona, Denver married Jackie on July 27, 1951. They had no money, no car and no place to live, but they had love.
After receiving an honorable discharge in 1953, Denver used his GI Bill to enroll in The University of Texas at Austin. Jackie worked at the Fourth U.S. Army Headquarters to support them, and Denver became the first in his family to earn a college degree. In 1955, Denver and Jackie welcomed their first daughter, Nancy. In 1956, Denver was inducted into Chi Epsilon, the National Civil Engineering Honor Society. Denver earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (Tau Beta Pi) in 1957, and a second daughter, Susan, arrived in 1958.
Denver joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he worked almost 30 years. In 1965, Denver earned a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Stanford University. He and Jackie lived in North Richland Hills for more than 25 years, and Denver served on the NRH City Council from 1976-1980. The last assignment of his Corps of Engineering career, Denver and Jackie moved to Little Rock, AR, where he oversaw the Little Rock district. Denver retired in 1986 with the U.S. Army’s Meritorious Civilian Service Medal (the second highest civilian honor), and he and Jackie moved to Salado.
While Denver pursued secondary careers in real estate, engineering and homebuilding, Jackie wrote a children’s book, staged plays and re-established a charitable organization, Tablerock Festivals, Inc. Denver was chief engineer at Scott & White Memorial Hospital (1991-1993) and an engineer with Emerson Construction (1995-2006). He also was a realtor, for Bill Barge Real Estate (1989-1991) in Temple, TX, and with Bill Bartlett Century 21 Real Estate (1996-1999) in Salado, TX. He was 1999 president of the Temple/Belton Board of Realtors. He established Denver L. Mills Construction Engineering, Co., Inc. in 2005 to develop and build “Homes with a Heart” in Prairie Dell, near Salado.
Denver served the community of Salado as Chamber of Commerce president in 1992-1993 when he led repurposing of the Red Schoolhouse, which became the Salado Civic Center. He was honored in 1994 with the chamber’s Salado Community Builder Award for distinguished service. He was president of the Pace Park Board of Trustees for 25 years, and he served for 28 years on the Tablerock Board of Directors. He founded the Annual Denver Mills Golf Tournament to support Tablerock and built sets for Salado Legends and Halloween Fright Trail as well as the concession annex and restrooms.
Denver’s love of God, his attitude of thankfulness, and his willingness to work hard influenced his life, shaping how he cared for his family, spent time with friends, gave back to his community and conducted himself while at work or play. When recalling Denver, we will remember a man who knew the power of love, patience, kindness, integrity, keeping your word, being useful, music, books, ideas, stories filled with laughter and the intentional choice of words. He treated others with caring and fairness, and people loved him. He had many good friends, but his favorite people were his family, who adored him in return. Although Denver was born into a poor family, he died rich in love and respect.
Denver’s parents and all his siblings, Haskell, Raymond, Sylvester, Jack. Flora, Goldie, Alma and Melba, preceded him in death.
He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Jackie; his two daughters, Nancy Mills Mackey and her husband, John, and Susan L. Humiston and her husband, Dave, all of Salado; seven grandchildren, Erin Warner (Andy) of Lakeway, Price Mackey of Arlington, Charlotte Mackey Baird (Zach) of Salado, Lance Mackey (Mylene) of San Antonio, Ashley Elmore (Jeff) of Colleyville, John Mackey III (Laura) of Austin, and Bryant Humiston of Austin; and 11 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, at Broecker Funeral Home in Salado. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 21, at Broecker, with burial to follow at Salado Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the following 501c3 charity: Tablerock Scholarship Fund, PO Box 55, Salado, TX 76571.