WHITE STONE—Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Dr. John David Mill died early Wednesday morning July 3, 2019, at home in White Stone with his wife, Betty at the bedside. He was 75 years old.
Born in Bakersfield, Calif., the son of Harry Tyler and Sarah Johnna Mill, John attended high school in Burns, Ore., where his father worked as a cowboy breaking horses and attending other animals.
John attended Valparaiso University, Indiana, where he earned a baccalaureate of science in chemistry. Joining the United States Air Force (USAF), John entered basic training in Texas. The USAF sent him back for further education at the University of Michigan where he completed a master’s in meteorology and in 1977 a doctor of philosophy in atmospheric science.
John spent several military tours around the U.S. and Korea before 1980. Stationed at Scott Air Force (AF) base near St. Louis, Mo., he met and married Betty Temple and moved to Hanscome AF base, near Westford, Mass., where he led a team of scientists studying the effects of varying atmospheric conditions and pollutants.
In 1984, John and Betty moved to West Germany near Ramstein AF base, where John held two jobs, first director of Aero Space Science Division, Second Air Weather Wing, then director of operations of USAF, Air Weather Service. They were in West Germany for four years where they traveled extensively.
John was transferred to the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., in 1988 and took leadership of an experimental space project within the Department of Defense. He was the project scientist on the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) Midcourse Space Experiment, a billion dollar scientific observatory class satellite program, where he led eight teams of world class scientists. For his efforts he was awarded the prestigious MDA—Technology Pioneer Award.
He retired from the service in 1995, serving 26 years in the USAF, and began work at Environmental Research Institute of Michigan providing leadership for similar space projects. A “scientist’s scientist” John’s technical acumen, professionalism and leadership, gained him the respect and admiration from his peers. He spent his last 15 working years in his own company, SpaceX, as an independent consultant. John was a research scientist providing technical space sensor systems consultation on military space programs.
In full retirement, John joined the U.S. Coast Guard (CG) Auxiliary and worked closely with the active CG members helping educate and training them on the water. He taught several educational courses and rewrote the national “Weather Course” while serving on the CG national board.
John also was a member of The Nation’s Boating Club (Power Squadron), teaching boating, climate and weather courses to the public.
He loved working in his woodshop and made several pieces of furniture for his home, scenery for the Lancaster Player’s theater, bookcases and award shelves for the Lancaster High School band and several of the “Little Free Libraries” that are sponsored in our area by St Andrews Presbyterian Church.
John is preceded in death by his parents; and leaves his wife, Betty of White Stone; two sisters, Joyce in Oregon and Peggy Jo in North Carolina and their children, Peggy, Carol and Sandra, living in Oregon, and Sarah, Michelle and Susan, living in Florida, North Carolina and Colorado respectively.
A memorial service was held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 9, at Currie Funeral Home. Interment followed the service at Historic Christ Church Burying Grounds. Family received friends from 5-7 p.m. Monday, July 8, at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Kilmarnock or to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester.