FRESNO, California. (KSEE) – First elected to the board of trustees in 2004, Carol Mills served the Fresno Unified community for 17 years.
The district said she passed away Wednesday after battling Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS.
“An amazing person in the community,” said Fresno Unified Trustee Keshia Thomas. “She will be deeply missed, and our hearts go out to her family.”
Even as her disease progressed, Carol continued to participate in board meetings and events despite her physical limitations.
“Even when she wasn’t speaking directly with her own voice, she was finding the use of technology in order to continue to participate, she was joining us via video,” said Fresno Unified Trustee Veva Islas. “Just continued on, just persevered, and so that was impressive and inspirational.”
Carol was also an attorney, and her former colleague Michelle Asadoorian said her legal expertise and attention to detail were a big benefit to the board. She said Carol often picked up on things that many others missed.
While she did clash with some other board members on certain issues, many of Carol’s colleagues said they always admired her for her passion for advocating for the students of Fresno Unified.
“You can only respect the amount of work and the amount of rigor that she’s put into just being on this board and making sure that she’s been fighting for the needs of the kids,” said Thomas.
“Like any of my colleagues, we don’t always agree on everything, but I think we did agree on the importance of trying to create the best system possible for our students, and I think in that there is a legacy of continuing work that will happen that will be inspired by Carol,” said Islas.
Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson released a statement about Carol‘s passing, saying in part, “Our community has been made better through her commitment to serving others. We stand in her debt, and she will be missed.”
Carol’s son Sam Mills also shared a message on behalf of the family: “We’re heartbroken at the loss of Carol. She spent her life in service to others and will be deeply missed. We ask for the respect of our privacy as we mourn our loss.”