Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Celeste Mills


Celeste died in Whitman County Hospital in Colfax, Washington. She is survived by her son Kevin Mills; daughter-in-law, Janet Mills; and her grandchildren, Sarah and David Mills. She was preceded in death by her husband, Lester Harrison Mills; and her son Chris Maurice Mills.

Celeste grew up in the town of Milton-Freewater, Ore., as the adopted daughter of Maurice and Harriet Frazier. She often told the family stories of spending many a summer's days as a child in the Walla Walla River. Later in high school, she drove a truck during harvest for her father's farm.

Celeste graduated from McLaughlin High School in Milton-Freewater. She became a telephone operator and worked in Walla Walla, Wash., and later worked as the main switchboard operator for the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla. Wanting a more adventuresome life, she left Oregon and go to California where she worked as a switchboard operator for the famous Del Coronado Hotel on Del Coronado Island. Celeste’s job provided her with interesting stories about dignitaries and people in high society that would visit the hotel.

As a mother of two, she was also busy helping her husband Les in the business but she really enjoyed doing charity and non-profit work as well. She served as Easter Seals County chairman and helped fundraise for Camp Easter Seals on Lake Coeur d'Alene for children with disabilities. Celeste was also active on a state level with the governor's board of developmental disabilities for many years.

She also found time to be a troop leader of the local Girl Scout troop and went on many outings. In the winter, skiing the Blue Mountains or swimming on Lake Coeur d’Alene where her family built and maintained a float-house at Conklin Park, Idaho.

After her children grew up and left home, both Celeste and Les became involved in advocating for agricultural aviation on a national level. Celeste served in the women's auxiliary for several years, going to many national conventions.

Celeste was a beloved wife and mother and was a staunch advocate for others in need throughout her life and she will be missed. Because of the COVID-19 virus, a memorial has been postponed until some future date. If you wish to make a memorial donation, please contact Shriners Hospitals for Children.


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