Frances Mills is being remembered by friends this week for her contributions on behalf of education, the arts, mentally disabled and the elderly.

Mills, 75, of Indianapolis, died Tuesday at Community North Hospital in Indianapolis of cancer.

"She was a dedicated philanthropist, and she gave to lots of causes and what she believed in," said Ruth Anderson, a retired social services activist who served on several boards with Mills, including the Family & Children's council.

Mills served on the boards of the Waterloo Community School District and for Exceptional Persons Inc. and worked for the Waterloo Teachers Concert Association for 35 years. She served 3 terms on the school board from 1976 to 1985, and was a founder and officer of Permanent Planning Inc.

She was also a founder and the first president of Family & Children's Council, a former program of the Family Service League of Black Hawk County that was established in 1980 as an answer to the growing problem of child abuse & neglect.

Elaine Pfalzgraf, clinical director of the Family Service League, said Mills continued to volunteer for several years and said she was one of the strongest advocates for children and families the community has experienced.

"She gave fully of herself to working towards stopping the cycle of child abuse and family violence," Pfalzgraf said. "She was a very dedicated person who was always there when you needed her. And she was always there when an organization needed her, when her family needed her and when children and other families needed her."

An example of this is when Mills decided in 1985 against running for a fourth term on the Board of Education after serving nine years.

"My decision was really very simple," said Mills at the time. She needed to help care for her mother-in-law and her aunt, both 93 years old at the time. "I didn't feel I'd be able to give the board the time I wanted to."

"Her many long hours of dedication and volunteering in the community will always be remembered," added Pfalzgraf.

Mills was also a vounteer at the Black Hawk County Health Center, the Black Hawk County Child Development Center and the Waterloo Pre School Academy.

She was an officer of the Black Hawk County Association for Retarded Citizens, an advocate for mental retardation, a Brownie leader and campaign chairwoman for the American Cancer Society's fund drive. She delivered "Meals on Wheels" to the elderly and was an adviser to the Junior League of Waterloo-Cedar Falls.

"She was a wonderful person, she was marvelous to work with and she had such a quiet, reserved manner about herself to solve problems," said Frank Mollenhoff, president/CEO of Goodwill Industries of Northeast Iowa, who met Mills in the late 1960s when the two worked on the opening of a hostel for disabled adults. "The world was a little better when Frances was among us," he said. "You miss people like that."

Article by Brian Graves, Courier Staff Writer