Harvey Mills finished life’s race at the age of 94 and crossed the finish line at 8:05 am on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, at the Neighborhoods at Brookview, in Brookings. A celebration of his life will be held at 12 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, at GracePoint Wesleyan Church, in Brookings, wish a time a sharing beginning at 11:30 am. A time of visiting and reminiscing will be held following the celebration service. Private family graveside services will be held prior to the service.The service will be live streamed through the Rude’s Funeral Home Facebook page.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Brookings Fellowship of Christian Athletes or Teen Challenge of the Dakotas.
Harvey Elwood Mills was born on May 14, 1926, at Bushnell, SD, to Kenneth and Marian (Felton) Mills. He attended country schools near Brookings and Brookings High School where he was a football and track standout. Following graduation from high school, he was drafted into the Army during World War II where he fought in the Battle of the Bulge and earned the Bronze Star, Combat Infantry Badge and three battle stars for his valiant service. When the war ended, he completed his military service in Europe as an M.P.
He returned to South Dakota and attended South Dakota State College on the G.I. Bill- graduating with a degree in Ag Engineering. At SDSC, Harvey excelled in track, and for a time, held the school record in the half mile race.
On Sept. 12, 1948, he married Mary Lou ‘Midge’ Larrabee. While at State, he constructed a shop to build boats and before it was finished, he had an offer to complete it as a house.
That began a 43-year career as president of H.E. Mills Construction Company. Under his leadership hundreds of homes, commercial buildings, churches, and schools were built in Brookings and other eastern South Dakota communities.
Harvey studied national housing trends and brought innovative ideas in development to Brookings. He was on the cutting edge with the first condominium project in South Dakota and affordable congregate apartments. Always an environmental steward, Harvey planted thousands of trees on his personal land and new developments.
A lifelong athlete, Harvey was one of the founders of the Brookings Prairie Striders. As a disciplined runner, he qualified for and competed in the Boston Marathon four times. Harvey enjoyed the comradery of races and triathlons, especially when teaming up with family members. When his knees gave out, he switched to biking and was a nationally ranked Senior Olympic Cyclist, winning many silver and gold medals.
Through their involvement on the state and national level of the Associated General Contractors, Harvey and Midge traveled the country and made many friends. Wherever he went and whatever he did, God was his compass throughout his life. In 2003, at the Senior Games in Norfolk, VA, a severe cycling accident nearly took his life. His family credits his recovery from this accident to strong faith, sheer determination and his unbreakable will.
Harvey was an adventurer at heart and introduced his family to camping, canoeing, sailing, hunting, and traveling to fun, wild and remote places. In retirement, Harvey and Midge enjoyed the warm winters in Naples, Florida.
Grateful for having shared his life are his three children, Sally Ann (James) Odenbach of Eureka, SD, John Harvey (Joy) Mills of Volga, SD, Mary Jo (David) Minor of Brookings, SD; 11 grandchildren and 32 great grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Marian Jacobs; his step father, the man who raised him, John Jacobs; his beloved wife, Midge Mills; son, Richard and his brother, Marvin Mills.
The family is grateful for the love and care both Midge and Harvey received at Stoneybrook Suites and especially from the staff at The Neighborhoods at Brookview.
Condolences may be sent to the family through www.rudesfuneralhome.com.