Landscapes 13

Gary Banner Mills

April 24, 1956 ~ November 7, 2021 (age 65)


Gary Banner Mills: Foremost a child of God; but also a fun, loyal, protective, gentle, funny and loving man slipped quietly into eternal life on Sunday, November 7.

Gary’s greatest joy was his 43-year marriage, which was a lifelong love affair with his wife, Carol Lou Mattox Mills. They were equally devoted to each other and simply could not have been more compatible.

Born and raised in Asheville until age 12, Gary had fond memories of his childhood with his sisters; and of following the Tourists and collecting baseball cards with his late father, Carl Eugene Mills. He shared his love of gardening with his mom.

He had deep affection for his grandparents and a special connection with Papaw Mills, Goga Banner, and Granny Lou Mattox.

He had no children by birth, but he loved Max Cathcart as a son, and the Cathcart family (from Seattle) was a second family to him.

Gary loved to be an “instigator” and create mischief with his nieces and nephews and, while they all participated, the Deas boys were the most willing accomplices.

He enjoyed family beach trips with his Mattox family; was a golf mentor to the Lord boys, and enjoyed countless golf rounds with Phil LaPorte.

He and his late father-in-law were into history, and Gary liked talking it over with “the Senator”. He showed great compassion for loved ones struggling to overcome personal difficulties.

Gary lived more life in his 65 years than most people do in a century. Some things that come to mind:

• He was a renaissance man who was equally comfortable pulling for the Clemson Tigers and all things sports, while also demonstrating his artistic side by becoming a master gardener and being part of a close-knit wood turning group led by Jack Edmondson.

• Gary was blessed by serving on three mission trips – building a church for the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, building a village well in Guatemala (where he really connected with a boy and his turtle), and serving in flood relief in SC with the Covenant Community Church (CCC) mission team.

• In the 80's Gary got Red Cross certified for the sole purpose of being a life guard - a requirement from the Girl Scout organization - when Sally and Carol Lou wanted to take their troop to Jekyll Island.  Because of Gary, many inner-city immigrant girls got to see the ocean for the first time. 

• He and Carol Lou served at New City Christian School (at the urging of Bruce Goforth). Gary found being a 5th grade classroom grandparent so fulfilling. It provided him the unique opportunity to interact with young boys and girls (and to create piñatas with them, among other things).

• Of all the Fruits of the Spirit, he particularly displayed gentleness. He was a dog and child magnet.

• You always wanted Gary to be on your trivia team, and he polished his skills at the Loafing Leprechaun with the Roberts while living in Atlanta.

• Gary attended numerous concerts in his younger years and saw everyone from Elvis Presley and The Rolling Stones to Elton John and more. He was standing on #18 when Jack Nicklas won the ‘86 Masters

• He knew every story line of EVERY episode of the Andy Griffith Show.

• He was an adjunct member of Carol Lou’s small group at CCC and loved “his girls.”

• He kept the roasted peanut industry in business, and always enjoyed poking a roaring fire.

• He and Carol Lou loved to explore and sought the opportunity to “be a traveler, not a tourist”. They chose to ride a rickety boat in Mexico filled with people transporting their chickens rather than take the touristy hydroplane boat, and they always took a train over a cab during a month long stay in NYC.

• He marveled at God’s splendor at the Sagrada Familia and Vatican and headed off to Cuba when travel there was allowed.

• While living in Seattle for 13 years, he developed deep, deep friendships with the Cathcart, Bules, Burke, Pratt, Cindric, and Allred families.

• He owned his own business which he and his wife ran for 33 years. He was beloved by his managers, Terry, Kevin, Sue, and Laura, and they were priceless to him.

In addition to his wife, Gary is survived by his mother Patricia Banner Mills; Sisters Donna Henderson (Jim) and June Deas (Bobby). He is also survived by mother-in-law, Carolyn Mattox; and siblings by marriage Sally Lord (Jim), Marjorie LaPorte (Phil), Bill Mattox (Jill) and Matthew Mattox. He had 12 nieces and nephews.

A private family celebration of life is planned for Sunday, November 14.

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