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Keith Mills ’60

“It was a wonderful place,” Keith Mills once said of Reed. “It spoiled me.” Circumstances forced him to finish his bachelor’s degree elsewhere, but the education and thinking of his Reed years stayed with him throughout life. It was here that he met his future wife and made lifelong friends.

Keith graduated from Anaheim Union High School and started at Reed on scholarship, beginning in 1953. Three years of Army service intervened, and he returned in 1957 as a sophomore. But finances dictated that he complete his bachelor’s degree at UC-Riverside. He moved to California with his Reed-educated bride, Ann Arnquist Mills ’61. One of their two sons, Michael Mills ’82, is also a Reed alumnus.

Majoring in economics with a minor in sociology, Keith was active in the Reed theatre, chorus, student council, and the Quest. After receiving his BA in economics from UC-Riverside, he completed graduate work at Claremont Graduate School and earned a PhD in economics in 1967.

For years Keith taught in schools of management and business administration, including as associate professor at York University in Toronto, where he established a graduate program in urban economic studies; as assistant professor at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina; and as lecturer at Claremont Men’s College.

He also managed a number of businesses, including Mills Soft Water in Fullerton, California, where he served as president, and as vice president of Servisoft Water Service.

Bitten by the acting bug at an early age, he appeared in both plays and one of the Gilbert and Sullivan productions at Reed. He continued to tread the boards throughout his adult life, working as a freelance actor in theatre, film, and television. He was active with the Actors Repertory Theatre in Claremont, was in several musical productions in Riverside, California, and a Cabaret Repertory production of The Dresser. Keith also appeared in the films Secret Admirer and Trial and Error, and played Judge Walter Green on television’s L.A. Law for six seasons.

Asked how Reed had prepared him for life in general, Keith answered, “I discovered that the ‘real world’ was really more like high school.”

He noted, “The intellectual elitist attitudes [Reed] inculcated proved a handicap in leading a normal life with regular people. Fortunately I married a Reed girl who understands me.”

Keith is survived by his wife Ann, his sons Michael (Drucilla) and James, and grandchildren.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2016

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