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Catherine Isabel Mills

Date of Death: October 11, 2018

Date of Birth: June 11, 1927


Catherine Isabel Libby Mills of Hallowell, Maine, died on October 11, 2018 at the age of 91.  She passed peacefully at home surrounded by her loving family as she had wished.  She was born on June 11, 1927 in Portland, Maine, to Ruth Emerson Heiskell and Frank Milton Libby.  She is predeceased by her siblings: Stan Libby, Eleanor St. Hilaire, Richard Libby, as well as her beloved niece and nephews: Jacqueline Wing, Steve St. Hilaire, Dennis Libby, and Lee St. Hilaire.  She was also predeceased by her longtime love, Gordon Syverson.

Catherine graduated as Class Salutatorian from Winthrop High School.  She majored in Secretarial Science/Business Administration at Gates Business College in Augusta, ME.  She forever frustrated her children with her notes to herself in shorthand.

Catherine worked for Smith and Wesson in Springfield, MA, and then Connecticut General in Hartford, CT, where she met her husband Robert Mills.  They married and moved to NYC where she worked for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Architects.  There, they had their first son, Robert “Michael” Mills.

The family moved to Chicago where she worked for Wade Advertising.  They moved from their city apartment to a home in La Grange, IL, in 1961.  She worked part time from home preparing documents for F.W. Caruso, and then Olson Engineering, both of La Grange, so she could be a full-time mother to Michael, Karin Marie Mills and Russell Edward Mills.  She was very involved as a parent with Seventh Avenue school.  She was part of a dedicated group of District 105 band parents, raising money for uniforms, driving her children to early morning marching seminars and after school lessons, and chaperoning bus trips to performances so that her children experienced that practice leads to excellence.  

Becoming a single parent after her divorce, Catherine began to work full-time for Moffett Technical Center of Argo-Summit.  She ended her working career after serving over 15 years at the Department of Psychology and Social Sciences at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center.  There she worked for Dr. Rosalind Cartwright transcribing dream tapes and preparing manuscripts in the field of sleep.  She would often say that in addition to working, she used psychology on the psychologists she worked for.

Catherine’s passions were her family, friends, and Sweet Adelines International.  She became a member of Sweet Adelines in 1963.  Their motto is Harmonize the World.  She lived that motto while sharing fun, love, and a little rottenness with everyone who knew her.  She sang, made her own costumes, competed, and wrote scripts, skits and parodies.  Most of all, Catherine made cherished friendships that lasted over 50 years with the members of the West Suburban Chapter and Western Lights Chapter, the Nuns of Above, the Amazing Basses, and her “dear, dear Lil”.

Catherine was very involved in her immediate La Grange, IL, community.  The Ninth Avenue block became her family as well, providing her with love, support, and fun.  Christa in particular became her second daughter.  Catherine cherished the cards, photos, and drawings the families continued to send her so she could keep current with those she loved even after she moved back to Maine in later years.

Catherine met her love, Gordon Syverson, through Sweet Adelines .  Her beloved extended family then grew with the addition of his children and grandchildren into her world.  At Show and Tell in kindergarten, Gordon’s granddaughter talked about her grandfather and “her Cathy”, thinking everyone had their own Cathy.  She remained their loving Cathy until the end.

When she moved to Hallowell in 2008, she broadened her community of friends by joining Silver Sneakers of Kennebec Valley YMCA.  She cultivated her knowledge of history through her niece, Jackie and the Monmouth Museum Historical Society.  An avid reader, she patronized the Hubbard Free Library.  She also loved visiting the ocean and the lighthouses of Maine.  Her love of the works of artist Charles Vickery brought both of these favorite pastimes together.  Even in her later years as she became ill, Catherine was not done making new friends.  Her hospice team through Maine General and her private caregivers provided compassion, fun, and truly caring support to enable her to live out her final wish, to remain home.  Her family is forever grateful for their efforts.

Catherine is survived by her son, Michael Mills and his wife Cindy of Tulsa, OK, her daughter Karin Mills and her wife Stephanie Martin of Chicago, IL, her son Russell Mills and his spouse Greg Dostie of Hallowell, Maine, her brother Roger Libby, her ex-husband Robert Mills of Winston-Salem, NC, as well as grandchildren, great grandchildren, and several generations of nieces and nephews. 

Catherine cherished the cards, letters, drawings and photos that she had received throughout the years from family and friends, especially during her illness.  These treasures will be laid to rest with her this spring in Glenside Cemetery, Winthrop, ME.  She will rest in a family plot beside her parents.  You will easily be able to locate her headstone as it will reflect her love of Sweet Adelines and the ocean.   In lieu of flowers, please consider sending donations to Sweet Adelines International    or the cause of your choice.

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