From a young age, Herbert Talley Mills wanted to soar with the eagles.
Born Dec. 22, 1922, in Wilmington, Del., Herb was a small child when his family moved to the west coast in California.
His parents, Charles H. and Margaret Roll Mills, were both professionals and had earned their college degrees. Charles was an architect by trade.
Herb’s mother Margaret had a sister in California. Herb fondly remembered spending summers with his aunt and uncle and helping tend to their orchards. It was in those orchards that Herb first looked into the sky and decided that’s where he wanted to be.
Flying got into his blood, and in turn, so did airplanes.
The young Herb began to assemble model airplanes and launch them into the skies.
Herb would recall his father Charles, and speak of what a wonderful dad he was. His dad was always there for him and would spend his days off, selflessly, taking him out into the desert to fly his model airplanes.
As the years passed by, Herb’s passion for flight became dominant in his life. He enjoyed flying his model planes, but he wanted more. He set his sights on becoming a pilot.
After years of perseverance, Herb would realize his goal of reaching the clouds. He earned his wings and became a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps. This afforded Herb the opportunity to travel the world.
He would recollect how much that he had enjoyed the time that he spent in Japan and the Philippines and the affection that he had for the people. When I asked Herb how he had been received by the Japanese people after World War II, he simply stated, “Our governments had been at war, not our citizens. I have a lot of respect for the Japanese people. They were good people and were not unlike the people of the United States.”
Herb also found great enjoyment in what he called one of the most beautiful creations ever made by the hand of man - The Automobile.
He would tell me about all of the many cars that he had owned over the years, but he would get a special gleam in his eye when he talked about his sports cars.
He would reminisce that because he was driving a sports car, his entire future was almost altered. He said that he had met the most beautiful woman that he had ever laid eyes on. Her name was Dorothy Steele of Davis, Okla.
After some time he developed the courage to ask her out on a date. Her reply was, “No!”
Although disappointed, he persisted. After several attempts, she accepted his date request.
Later, Dorothy would confess to Herb that she had been reluctant to go out on a date with him because he drove a sports car. Herb recalled that Dorothy told him that she was afraid that a man that drove a sports car wouldn’t behave like a gentlemen.
Herb and “Dottie,”’ as he affectionately called her, were united in marriage in Bay County, Fla., in 1953. To this union a son, John, was born.
Herb would often tell me what a wonderful, intelligent, loving and caring friend Dorothy had been to him for so many years.
Many times he recalled how much he had loved her mother and father. He would say, “It’s not often that a man can be lucky enough to find the love of his life, but to be able to say that he loved everything about her parents, I would think, almost never happens.”
Herb would shake his head and say, “What can I say? I have been a darn lucky guy in almost every way possible. I was able to reach all of my professional and personal goals with Dorothy at my side.”
Not only had Herb reached his goal of being a pilot in the Air Corps, he was also a college graduate, had been licensed as a commercial aircraft pilot and retired from the City of San Diego, Calif.
After retirement in 1979, Herb and Dorothy moved to Clinton, Ark., to the community of Walnut Grove.
They had purchased a turn of the century farm. This afforded Herb the space to build a wood shop. In this wood shop Herb was able to build a lovely addition on to the old farmhouse. This addition included a library and sewing area for Dorothy.
Herb and Dorothy had many good years together in their retirement.
But on Feb. 21, 2005, Herb’s world stopped turning. Dottie, his bride of 52 years, passed away.
Herb spent the remainder of his years building model airplanes and teaching others how to fly them. He said he enjoyed building them more than flying because it occupied more of his time.
He enjoyed going out to eat, although he was never satisfied with the food. He would say, “It just don’t taste like Dorothy’s cooking.”
Herb always enjoyed sharing a pizza and beer with friends.
He loved taking rides in his car and seeing parts of Arkansas that he had never seen before. He would sit on his porch at night and stare into the night sky and remember days gone by.
On June 28, 2013, Herb suffered a stroke. The doctors said he wouldn’t survive, but he did. He became a resident of Ozark Health Rehab and Nursing Center.
He would tell me how much he liked all of people there and how good the staff was to him. In September, Herb accepted Jesus Christ into his heart as his personal savior. While at Ozark Health, Herb received the SunShine award for the joy that he brought to the lives of others.
On Feb. 19, 2014, at 11:49 in the morning, with friends at his side and surrounded by the staff that he had come to call family, Herbert Talley Mills slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God.
He will be at rest beside Dorothy in Davis, Okla.