Wilmer Hastings Mills
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After a short, courageous battle with cancer of the liver, Wilmer Hastings Mills, 41, died at his parents' home in The Plains in Zachary, Monday, July 25. He was surrounded by his family. He was a resident of Sewanee and Chattanooga, Tenn. He is survived by his wife of 15 years, Kathryn Sinclair Oliver Mills; his children, Benjamin Oliver Mills and Phoebe-AgnŠs Sinclair Mills; his parents, Wilmer Riddle Mills and Elizabeth Jennings Mills; his grandparents, Albert and Kathleen Mills; his brother and sister-in-law, John and Greta Barbour Mills; his sister and brother-in-law, Kate and Charles Irby; his sister, Jenny Gueltig; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by grandparents Robert and Virginia Jennings. Wil was a graduate of McCallie in Chattanooga as well as of both the College and the School of Theology at Sewanee, the University of the South. "And gladly would he learn, and gladly teach." (Chaucer). Wil was a renaissance man who pursued all things Godly, true and beautiful, and who shared those things as well as himself generously with others. He is respected as one of the foremost poets of his generation; his work was included in the Penguin Anthology of Contemporary Younger Poets and the Swallow Press Anthology of New American Poets; his publications include a book, "Light for the Orphans," and numerous poems published in the most prestigious journals nationally and internationally. He passed on his love for poetry to students as a Kenan Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and as Writer-In-Residence at Covenant College, as well as in many poetry readings and lectures. Wil was awarded the McCallie Distinguished Alumni Award for his achievements. Wil also painted, with art shows in Sewanee and Chattanooga; he wrote and performed music, worked as a carpenter and sawyer, wove white oak baskets from trees he felled himself, renovated two log cabins, built his own house, which was written up in Southern Living, made furniture, grew gardens, and baked bread in a wood-fired bread oven he had made himself. The name of his bread oven was "Companis," the Latin root word for "companion," which means "with bread." Breaking bread at the Lord's Table as well as with family and with friends was at the core of Wil's life. He was a companion who will be missed by many. Visitation will be Friday, July 29, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Plains Presbyterian Church, Zachary. Visitation resumes at the church on Saturday, July 30, from 9 a.m. until service at 11 a.m. Graveside service at the Young Family Cemetery, Zachary. Arrangements by Charlet Funeral Home Inc, Zachary. Condolences may be sent to http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/wilmills1.

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Published in The Advocate from Jul. 27 to Jul. 29, 2011.