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Dr. Sandra J. Mills

Posted: Wednesday, Dec 5th, 2012


Sandra J. Mills
SPRINGFIELD - Dr. Sandra Janine Mills, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois - Springfield, died peacefully at home on Nov. 27 surrounded by loving family and friends after a long battle with cancer.

A private celebration of her life will be held for family and close friends.

Dr. Mills was born in Mendota to Lois and Ben Clarke. She married Joseph Mills.

Survivors include her husband of 40 years; one daughter, Lisa Stewart of Seattle, Wash.; one son, Aaron (Charlotte) Mills of San Diego, Calif.; one sister, Joy Henderson of Napa, Calif.; and one sister-in-law, Betty Phalen of Mendota.

She was preceded in death by her parents and one brother, Harry Phalen.

Dr. Mills grew up in Peoria and spent her life in Illinois as a professional social worker, lobbyist, community activist and educator working for social justice and change. Before joining the faculty at UIS, she spent over 20 years in a variety of roles as a practicing social worker. She obtained her B.S. in sociology at Bradley University, her MSW at UIUC, and her doctorate in Adult Education from Northern Illinois University. As a faculty member at UIS, she taught at both the graduate and undergraduate levels in the Child Family and Community Services and the Social Work Programs. She served as department chair in 2003 and 2004 and taught and developed an internship for students in Sighisoara, Romania in 2001 and 2004. She was the recipient of multiple honors and awards including, most recently, the Lifetime Achievement Award in Social Work from the Illinois Chapter of the NASW.

She was a loving and inspirational partner, mother, mentor and friend who was adored by her family and cherished by her friends. Her passion for travel took her around the world, and her warmth, open mindedness, and interest in others drew people to her wherever she went. She lived each day of her extraordinary life to the fullest with joy, humor and resilience and was a wonderful role model to those who knew and loved her.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation at http://www.themmrf.org.








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