Willa Dean (“Dee”) (Mills )Harris of Grand Junction, Colorado was born on May 28, 1923, to Mabel Ward Mills and Cecil Mills in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and went home to her Lord on January 25, 2020.
Dee and her family moved to a farm in Waldron, Arkansas in 1932 during the Great Depression. Dee played basketball for Waldron High School and was named to the all-state team three years. Dee briefly attended nursing school in Rogers, Arkansas, before moving to St. Louis, Missouri. Dee and Lynn Harris married on Feb. 7, 1943, while Lynn was training to deploy to Europe as a combat engineer.
After the War, Dee and Lynn moved to Valparaiso, Indiana. Dee worked as a telephone operator supervisor, several positions at Valparaiso University, and as a district sales manager for World Book Encyclopedia. And Dee was a tireless church and community volunteer. She was named the Porter County, Indiana, Woman of Distinction in 1955. After retiring to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she lived for 31 years, Dee was heavily involved in Senior Olympics. Dee served on both the Dona Ana County and state boards for New Mexico Senior Olympics for 25 years, finally “retiring” at the age of 90. In 2014, Dee moved to Grand Junction, Colorado, where she also volunteered and played a mean game of pinochle.
Dee was preceded in death by her husband, Lynn Hamilton Harris, her daughter, Phyllis (Harris) Caten, and her brothers James Cecil and Earl Lee Mills. She is survived by her son, Dean Hamilton Harris, her brother, Roy Lee Mills, her grandchildren, Glenn, Gail, and Glenn Harris, and Dean Edward and Charles Gingerich. She is survived by her great-grandchildren, Gabriel Rheuben and Calliana Dee Harris, Dionne Stephenson, and Danielle Ziulkowski.
A celebration of Dee’s life will be held on Friday, May 22, 2020, in Grand Junction, Colorado, at her son’s home. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to HopeWest, Grand Junction, Colorado.