Ada Mills

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Ada Belle Parks​ Mills

(John Connally's only committed delegate at the 1980 Republican National Convention)

Born March 4, 1912​
Prairie Grove
Washington County​

Arkansas, USA​

Died September 30, 2001 (aged 89) ​
Clarksville, Johnson County, Arkansas​
Spouse Joe B. Mills (married 1933-1997, his death)​

Jim Pat Mills
​ Joanie McCleskey
​ MaryTom "Tommie" Riley-O'Bar ​

Religion Presbyterian

Ada Belle Parks Mills (March 4, 1912 – September 30, 2001)[1] was a Republican political activist in her native Arkansas. In 1980, she was the only delegate initially committed to the candidacy for president of former Governor John B. Connally, Jr., of Texas. Connally spent some $11 million in his 13-month primary campaign, which ended in withdrawal following his loss to Ronald W. Reagan of California in the South Carolina primary. Mrs. Mills received brief national media attention as the "$11 million delegate."[2]

Civic and business activities

Mills was born in Prairie Grove in Washington County in the northwestern part of the state. Her parents were Clifford Parks and Belle Simmons. Mills actively promoted her alma mater, the Presbyterian-affiliated University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas, from which she graduated 1931. In 1933, Mills and her husband were the first people to be married at the newly established chapel on the University of the Ozarks campus. She held the position of alumni organization president for the university's alumni association Mills also served as a member of the board of trustees, and in 1970 was awarded an honorary doctorate from the university.[3]

Joe and Ada Mills founded and operated Ozark Hardwood Manufacturing Company, Mills Oil Company, Ozark Box and Crating Corporation, and Ozark Hardwood Lumber Company. They also operated F&M Box and Crating Corporation in Caney in Montgomery County in southeastern Kansas, and the Texas Container Corporation in Texarkana, Arkansas. In 1973, Mrs. Mills received the Small Business Administration "Businessperson of the Year" award. She served on numerous local, state, and national business commissions.[3]

For more than four decades, she spearheaded the campaign to build a replacement bridge on Arkansas Highway 109 over the Arkansas River between Clarksville and the community of Morrison Bluff in Logan County. The since-named Ada Mills Bridge is the longest such span in the state of Arkansas.[3]

Political activities

In 1972, Mills was a delegate to the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, in which she joined the unanimous Arkansas members in ratifying the re-nomination of the Nixon-Agnew ticket.[4]

Eight years later in 1980, she committed initially to Nixon's former treasury secretary, John Connally, before finally joining her Arkansas delegation to support the Reagan-Bush ticket, which prevailed in Arkansas. The original Arkansas count had been seven for Reagan, four for U.S. Senator Howard Baker, of Tennessee, two for Bush, five uncommitted, and Mills' backing of Connally. Along with Mills, the Arkansas delegation at the 1980 Republican National Convention, which met in Detroit, Michigan, included U.S. Representatives John Paul Hammerschmidt and Edwin Ruthvin Bethune, Jr., party chairman Lynn Lowe, national committeeman Harlan "Bo" Holleman, and party legal counsel James Burnett.[5][6]

In 2000, she was awarded the Republican Party's Eagle Award for fifty years of work in the establishment of a two-party system in historically Democratic state.[3]

Death and family

Mills died at her Clarksville residence at the age of eighty-nine. She was survived by a son, Jim Pat Mills of Clarksville; two daughters and sons-in-law, Joanie and husband Lee McCleskey of College Station, Texas, and MaryTom (Tommie) Mills Riley-O'Bar and her second husband, Clyde Russell O'Bar (1938-2017). At the time of Ada Mill's death, the O'Bars resided in Lubbock, Texas. When Clyde O'Bar died at the age of seventy-eight, they were living in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. He is interred at Resthaven Cemetery in Lubbock.[7]

Joe and Ada Mills had seven grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.[3] Like his mother, Jim Pat Mills is active in the state Republican Party, having been the Johnson County state committeeman.[8]

Services were held on October 4, 2001, at the Raymond Munger Memorial Chapel at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville with six officiating ministers, including then Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Joe and Ada Mills are interred at Oakland Cemetery in Clarksville.[3]


  1. Social Security Death Index. Retrieved on September 8, 2010; under pay wall.
  2. Adieu, Big John. Time magazine, March 24, 1980 (March 24, 1980). Retrieved on September 8, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Ada Mills. The Johnson County (Arkansas) Graphic (October 2001). Retrieved on September 8, 2010.
  4. Ada Mills. Retrieved on September 8, 2010.
  5. Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, February 23, 1980, p. 572; July 12, 1980, p. 1928.
  6. Arkansas Outlook (Republican Party newsletter), March 1979.
  7. Clyde O'Bar's obituary. The Albuquerque Journal, (March 19, 2017). Retrieved on August 13, 2019.
  8. State Republican Committee Members Listing. Retrieved on September 8, 2010.