FRESNO – We of the Fresno County Democratic Party mourn the passing of Carol Mills, and give our condolences to her family and friends.
A professional attorney and tireless public servant, Carol Mills served on the Fresno County School Board for seventeen years. She was a lead appellate court attorney for the 5th District Court of Appeal. The first in her family to go to college, during her time as an elected trustee she advocated for expansion of access to the International Baccalaureate Program, Career Technical Education, arts, and athletics. She fought to make after school activities available to every child. This year, she won a great victory in that effort as she guided the disbursement of pandemic relief funds in exactly that direction.
Her tragic death after a battle with ALS, our community regrets not only the absence of her expertise and dedication, but will also miss the warmth and profound sense of caring she brought to those who knew her. She was someone who could be counted on to attend every meeting, every committee meeting, and show up at every football game. She dressed up and rode down the block in a convertible at the Fresno High Harvest Festival because it made the children smile.
As a trustee, she put her legal expertise to the public benefit. She sheparded every district budget with care, read every resolution. When the great recession hit in 2008, FUSD weathered it better than most in the state, thanks in part to the reserves Carol Miller created in the years prior.
While she placed utmost importance in the nonpartisan nature of her elected position, her other deeds show her commitment to democratic ideals. She was a tireless worker for women’s issues, democratic engagement, and someone who could always be counted on to show up when something needed to be done. Even in her disease, she found strength through her experience and spoke out on the subject of ableism. It was her belief that it was key to keep your thoughts positive, because thoughts become words, and you should keep your words positive, because words become behavior.
Carol Mills delivered a speech during the Fresno Unified 2020 digital commencement ceremony to all the students, families, educators, and alumni who were not able to gather together under the shadow of the pandemic. Now, a year later, her words still provide us a guide:
“I hope that the extraordinary times we are in, with its challenges, setbacks, and successes have taught you that you have the resilience, perseverance, and courage to face whatever comes your way in life.”