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James 'Jim' Vale Mills

James “Jim” Vale Mills, an adventurous hunter, avid fisherman, Golden Glove boxer, scratch golfer, downhill skier, passionate poetry reader, knowledgeable historian, adored husband, world traveler and loving father to five daughters died of natural causes on September 15, 2022, in Rock Springs, Wyo. His wife Tuck, daughters, son-in-law, and grandchildren were by his side.

Jim was born on March 11, 1933, on Long Lake in Burtrum, Minn. He was the first child of Lyle and Catherine Mills. Jim’s early years were spent in Chicago, where he attended elementary school at St. Thomas of Canterbury, St George High School, and graduated from Loyola University in 1951.

While in high school Jim excelled in academics and sports.  He was a member of the National Honor Society and captain of the football and golf teams, While at Loyola, he was ranked the #1 Northside Collegiate golfer with a zero handicap. After graduation, Jim enlisted in the army and was Captain of the Army’s golf team.

Jim met the love of his life Laura “Tuck” DuBois Tonn on a golf course in Sauk Centre, Minn., 15 miles from Burtrum, Minn. When she outdrove him, he knew she was the one! They were married in Sauk Centre on December 21, 1959. Jim and Tuck spent their early married years in Chicago, where Jim worked three jobs simultaneously: State Farm Insurance adjuster, maintenance man, and building manager. God blessed their union with five daughters.

In 1978, Jim achieved his life-long dream of moving to Wyoming when he and his partners purchased the Holiday Inn in Thermopolis, Wyo. Jim managed the hotel for the next 35 years. As an avid sportsmen, Jim and Tuck were blessed to have traveled the world in search of big game, bigger fish and adventure. Jim completed many Big Fives, but he was proudest of his final one which was all archery. In 1983, an addition to the hotel appropriately named The Safari Club became the home of the majority of his mounts and pictures. People from all over the world stopped by the hotel to admire his collections.

James is survived by his wife, Laura “Tuck” Mills of 63 years; and brother, Jon Mills (Lisa) of Colleyville, Texas. His daughters, Patty Batenhorst (John) of Jackson,Wyo., Kelly Wagner (Jim) of Rock Springs,Wyo., Tracy McDonald (Neal) of Billings, Mont., and Jamey Nielson (Ken) of Lander Wyo., will treasure the memories of their father. James also loved his 14 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Lyle and Catherine Mills; beloved daughter, Mary Mills; and granddaughter, Kelly Grissom.

Condolences can be sent to 124 Cedar Ridge, Thermopolis, WY. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to a hunting or fishing organization.

A Rosary will be held on Thursday at 7 p.m. at St.Francis Catholic Church. The funeral is Friday, September 23 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Francis Catholic Church in Thermopolis. All are invited to the Rosary and service.  Please plan to join the family at the Hot Springs Hotel and Spa where the family will join you after a private burial at the cemetery.


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