Kenneth Royal Mills January 3, 1923 – January 27, 2018

Filed under: Life,Obituaries |

Kenneth Royal Mills, beloved father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, passed away on January 27, 2018, in Grand Prairie, TX at the age of 95. He had recently moved to Texas to be near his daughter.

Born in Jonesboro, AR, he served as a naval aviator in World War II, received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Southwestern College at Memphis, and his master’s degree in organic chemistry from the University of Arkansas. While at Southwestern, he met the love of his life, Ann Morrow. They were married for 65 years, until her passing in 2016.

Ken and Ann moved to Bartlesville in 1951 to work at Phillips Petroleum Company. Over the years, Ken was awarded 23 patents for his research and development work with polyethylene, polypropylene, and other polyolefins.
Ken had a passion for flying that began with his WW II flight training and continued throughout his life. An accomplished pilot and mechanic, he owned, flew, and maintained an airplane until long after retirement. He learned photography as a boy and honed his skills making thousands of photographs for the next 80 years. He participated in workshops around the country and mentored young photographers. Fond memories included an exhibition of his prints at the Bartlesville Community Center and many visits to mountain man rendezvous at Woolaroc and elsewhere, documenting their way of life through photography.

His camera and darkroom skills served him well during the war. As he neared completion of his pilot training, the Navy found itself with a surplus of pilots, and his entire class was disbanded. Due to his photography experience, he was assigned as an aerial photographer with Naval Photographic Interpretation Squadron One on Okinawa. He continued aerial photography as a hobby until he retired from flying, and especially enjoyed making photographs of Bartlesville and the Osage hills from the air.

Ken was an Eagle Scout and loved the outdoors, especially fishing in the Ozarks and the lakes of northern Ontario. He and Ann were founding members of Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church. He was a member of the Society of Plastics Engineers and the American Chemical Society.

Ken was preceded in death by his beloved wife Ann and his sisters Ruth Mapes and Dorothy Wells.

He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law Dr. Katherine and Richard Johnson, granddaughter and son-in-law Carol and Christopher Layton, grandson and daughter-in-law Kenneth Mills and Misha Johnson, three great-grandchildren, niece Mrs. Dorothy Hays, and nephews Dr. William Mapes and Dr. Royal Mapes.

Following a Memorial Service in Duncanville, Texas, Mr. Mills will be buried in Bartlesville, Oklahoma privately at a later date.