Howard “John” Edwin Mills
June 23, 1930 – Jan. 16, 2016
Howard “John” Edwin Mills, 85, of Saltspring Island, passed away peacefully at home on January 16, 2016. John was born to the late Albert and Dorothy Mills on June 23rd, 1930 in London, England. He always claimed that he weighed 13 lbs and since all witnesses to this event had pre-deceased him, we could not argue.
He arrived in Canada in 1953 working as a gandy-dancer, fisherman, coalman, dishwasher, and as a radar technician on the DEW line. He graduated with a B.A. from UBC, receiving a fellowship to Stanford where he received an M.A. In 1965. He then became a member of Simon Fraser University’s charter faculty, proud to be a “founding father” of the University, retiring Professor Emeritus in 1995.
A prolific writer, he published 8 books, mostly novels. The latest, Still No Word From Nancy, was published in 2015. John was a great wit, sophisticated satirist, passionate chef, generous host, loving husband and was active in church and community. Everyone who had the pleasure of meeting John, liked him and enjoyed being in his company.
He married Elaina Hyde in 1983 and moved to Saltspring Island in 1999. He knew that Elaina would outlive him and often joked that he hoped he would not end up in a “home” on an “iron lung”, while pretending to be convinced that the family was plotting against him in this regard. John is also survived by two children: Adam and Emma Hyde of Vancouver, BC and 3 grandchildren: Finn, Makena and Kristjan.
Since John was alone at the moment of death we don’t know his last words. Perhaps “sic transit gloria mundi”, or “in manus tuas me commendo”, or equally possible “Oh shit!” would have passed over his lips. Had John written his own obituary, he would have done a much better job than any of us. We will truly miss this most wonderful man.
A memorial service will be held at 3pm, Friday February 5th, 2016, at the All Saints by-the-Sea Anglican Church in Ganges, BC.