Dorothy Jane Mills
July 5, 1928 — Nov. 17, 2019
Growing up near Euclid Beach Park in Cleveland, Ohio, meant summers enjoying the exciting rides, the huge and glamorous dance hall attracting the name bands of the 30s and 40s, and the light-hearted atmosphere of the Park. But I also loved serious study at Memorial School and Collinwood High School, where I concentrated on English, especially devouring books and developing my abilities in writing of all types. I particularly enjoyed creating essays, book reviews, and news stories. Planning to become a journalist, I co-edited the high-school newspaper.
I liked sketching and took some lessons at the Cleveland Museum of Art, but my favorite hobby was, and still is, playing the piano. Coming from a family of musicians, I discovered that I needed no lessons in order to play the music I heard on the radio or at Severance Hall.
College and Early Career Interests
At Fenn College, now Cleveland State University, I majored in English, worked on the school newspaper, and contributed to the literary magazine. During part of each year I also held full-time jobs, first as a “copy boy” at the Cleveland News, finding contacts with real journalists to be thrilling, and then as a proofreader in the advertising department of the Halle Brothers Department Store, learning how to write and design the ads that appeared in local newspapers.
I also discovered the field of history: its drama, its colorful characters, and its revelations of what really happened in the past and was currently happening behind the headlines of the day. And while performing part-time secretarial duties for professors I discovered that Professor Harold Seymour and I were becoming close as a result of my helping him develop his writing. I decided that my high-school boyfriend and I really had little in common after all.
Marriage and History
The day after my third year at Fenn, when Seymour’s divorce had become final, we were married, and I transferred to Mather College of Western Reserve University (now Case Western), where I changed my major to Education, since Seymour had persuaded me to enter that field. I taught in the Cleveland and Parma Heights school systems while completing my master’s degree. When we moved to Buffalo, New York, I taught there and started work on a doctorate.
Meanwhile, I indulged my desire to work with words by performing Seymour’s research, organizing his material, and outlining the notes, first for his Ph.D. dissertation and then for the books that grew from it. The first book we prepared together was published when we lived in New York City and, partly because of its subject, baseball history, received much attention in the press.
I was still teaching and didn’t begin serious writing of my own until the sixties, when we had left New York City and I was teaching upstate in Warwick. Still working on Seymour’s books, I also began writing articles for education journals and published instructional material useful in my own classroom and others. The children’s books I published in 1965 became popular with parents outside the classroom because they could be used to show first-graders how quickly they might become independent readers.
Editing and Linguistics
By the time we moved to New England in 1966 I knew I was burned out as a teacher and would leave teaching in favor of working with words. While studying at Boston University I also investigated job possibilities and in 1967 joined Ginn and Company, a famous old educational publisher, quickly moving up to Senior Editor.
My stimulating work at Ginn inspired one of my most prolific writing periods. An education article I wrote on the application of linguistics to decoding was reprinted several times. So was the piece I wrote on Black English. But I still handled Seymour’s baseball research and worked closely with him on his books. The second volume of the baseball trilogy was published, to considerable acclaim, while we were living in West Newbury, Massachusetts.
Completing the Baseball Books
In the early seventies, with Seymour’s writing stalled, I persuaded him to leave teaching and focus entirely on writing. When we decided to both write full-time, I quit my job, too, and we moved to Ireland and lived in a cottage in County Mayo. While assisting Seymour with his work I wrote and edited on a free-lance basis and also published some articles. In Ireland I bcame much interested in studying Irish history, customs, and language.
Finding it increasingly difficult to handle research while living so far from our sources, we moved back to the States, first to the South and then, when Ginn asked me to return, to Boston. Seymour became increasingly depressed, however, and I was performing most of his work for him. After Ginn dismissed those of us hired for their latest project, I looked for a less expensive place to live, and we moved to New Hampshire, where I eventually found it necesssary to take over the writing of Seymour’s third book as well as its research and organization.
At the same time I was performing a lot of free-lance book editing, mostly for Little, Brown in Boston and Scott, Foresman in Chicago, and then for Stillpoint of nearby Walpole. I also wrote and published two education textbooks and wrote articles for two local newspapers. By the time I completed the third of Seymour’s three baseball books for him, I knew he must be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
The Sceptre and Other Projects
When Seymour died in 1992, I was already working on the research and writing of my biggest project, a historical novel of the Austrian Nazis in the 1930s, entitled The Sceptre, inspired partly by family history. At the same time I began revealing to a few close friends and colleagues the heavy contribution I had made to the famous Seymour books.
My New Life
Then came a surprising event: at age 65 I fell in love. I had always enjoyed travel, especially on ships (the QE2 is my favorite) but I had never taken a cruise, so at the end of 1993 I boarded the Norway for a Christmas holiday. There, on the way to the Caribbean, I met Roy Mills, a retired officer of the Royal Canadian Air Force and a widower. Within a few months I was living in Canada with him and had applied for permanent residence, which required applicants to avoid changing their marital status during the year-long process of obtaining permission to live permanently in Canada.
We traveled across the country while he introduced me to family and friends. That winter we searched for a vacation home in Florida, and by the time we found it in Naples — where other Mills family members often gathered — my Canadian residence status was granted, so we were married. I was still writing and publishing articles, and in 1998 I published The Sceptre on the internet. I also sold my New Hampshire house.
In 1999 we decided to stop living in two places, so we made Naples our permanent home. The Sceptre was published in hard copy (see the Naples Daily News
story about this event), and we started engaging in book tours as well as traveling for enjoyment. In March of 2000 we held a joyous celebration of Roy’s eightieth birthday. He passed away in 2012.
I continue to enjoy research and writing as much as I ever have, publishing articles and books, making presentations of my work for various organizations, and traveling to conventions and to family events. Life is good.
As I age I become more philosophical. What is life all about? What is time? Why do we work?
Questions like this haunt me during odd moments of the day, so much so that I have written a couple of essays containing my musings. If you are advancing in age (and who isn’t?), these short pieces may interest you. They are short pieces called “Dream Time” and “Working.” I’ve received many comments from readers who say they feel much as I do about time and about their work.