Sandersville, GA - John “The General” Mills Jr., 71, died on October 3, 2021, at Dublinair Health Center after a long battle with CTE/Dementia. Graveside service will be held on Saturday, October 9, 2021 at 11 a.m. at Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Warthen, Georgia. Rev. Corian Roberson will officiate and Rev. Rosco Walls eulogist.
He was born September 17, 1950, in Sandersville, Georgia, the son of Mr. John Mills Sr. and Mary L (Womble) Mills and was raised on Long Island, New York by his mother and stepfather, “Pop”, Mr. Elbert Marshall.
John graduated from Brentwood High School, Class of 1969 where he was the first African-American elected Senior Class President. Following graduation, he attended the State University of New York where he majored in Political Science and Pre-Medicine. His first and final full-time job was as an Attendant at Pilgrim State Hospital in New York. In 1971, his older brother, Elliott Miller (now deceased) introduced him to amateur boxing where John “The General” Mills emerged winning his first Middle Weight title in 1974 and the New York Golden Glove. He held that title until 1976 when he was then named to Team U.S.A. Boxing at the Good Will Games where he finished a Bronze Medalist. Before turning professional under the World Boxing Association (WBA), he Married Karen Marie Pierre of New York City in 1975 and they gave birth to his only son, John Mills-Pierre III, in 1977, although John also accepted his stepson, Michael, as his own. The family resided in Bay Shore, NY until their divorce in 1978.
The General’s last prize fight was in 1979 when he participated in Team USA vs. USSR (now Russia) All-Weight Class Exhibition, which boxing insiders consider the inspiration behind the famed 1985 Rocky IV film (spoiler alert: Rocky won, John lost however). The next stage of his career in the 80s found John mentoring/ training many great fighters of that era including McGirt and Holmes to name a couple. Known for his eloquence, he also served as a correspondent to ABC Sports and Radio where he could be heard bringing matches to life. Considered a local hero in New York, he used his celebrity to pay it forward - civic duty, political activism and generosity would define his life – he created the Youth Boxing Program in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of America in Bay Shore, NY and successfully won his first public election to the Suffolk County Board of Trustees where he served as Treasurer (the first African American elected to office in the county). After a failed campaign run as Mayor of Islip in the early 90s, John started to take a back seat from public life but always supported his candidates and could be found donating time to local kid’s teams or spearheading various foundations to empower underserved youth.
After retiring in 2005, he returned to Sandersville, GA to live with his mother, Mary when they reunited with the Womble side of the family who remain an ever-present fixture of Sandersville. It goes without saying, Mr. Mills made his presence known from his political activism to his outspoken desire for change. In retirement he remained a storyteller like no other. He lived life at 30,000 feet and never allowed the triviality of daily life weigh him down. He was generous to a fault and a gentle giant beloved by anyone who was willing to listen or seeking a good time. His final months were spent at Addington Place of Dublin where he entertained the porch-rocking retirees with his life of yesteryear.
In addition to his parents, he is predeceased by sisters, Mrs. Delores Dixon and Ms. Annabelle Lipsey; and brothers, Mr. George Miller, Mr. Leo Miller, and Mr. Elliott Miller. He is survived by adopted brother, Hasiin Olajuwon Dixon (who is also his biological great grandnephew) and two sisters, Ms. Elizabeth Miles and Ms. Rebecca Williams. Notably, he is also survived by son, John Mills-Pierre III, stepson, Michael Thomas Green-Pierre, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins across the globe.
A celebration of life will be held at 11A.M. Saturday, October 9, 2021 at Mount Olive Baptist Church, 9123 GA Route 15, Warthen, GA 31094 followed by a repress hosted at the residence of his first cousin, Ms. Glenda Womble, at 711 Alfred Carson Circle, Sandersville, GA 31082.
In the spirit of Mr. Mills’s passion for promoting education and trailblazers, the family asks that donations be made in lieu of flowers in his memory to support his grandnephew, Jelani Sarr, ranked #31 by the US Tennis Association and the current #1 seed in France via https://gofundme.com/f/Jelani-sarr039s-tennis-center-for-character. All proceeds will go towards his training and coaching.
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