Queenie B. Mills, a former Punahou School educator whose contributions led to the start of Head Start programs nationally, will be remembered in a memorial service tomorrow.
QUEENIE B. MILLS / 1911-2001
Service will honor educator
and friend to animals
Politician Rudy Pacarro
Vibraphonist Arthur Lyman
By Pat Gee
Mills, 89, died Aug. 6 in Urbana, Ill. But because "Hawaii was always home to her," she asked that her ashes be brought back, said her hanai daughter, Jeannie Crockett of Illinois. The service will be held at the Roger Monsarrat family plot in Oahu Cemetery.
Newly graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees from New York University, Mills worked at Punahou from 1946 to 1951, starting as director of the Kindergarten Department in 1946-1947, then as supervision principal of the Lower Elementary School from 1947 to 1949. Her last position was as a curriculum coordinator and director of in-service teacher training.
Mills, a University of Illinois professor emeritus and retired head of the division of Human Development and Family Ecology, was the recipient of the Paul A. Funk Award in 1978 for development of a significant interdisciplinary program of teaching and research.
In 1964 she started one of the country's first intervention programs for preschool children from low-income families, at the University of Illinois. The next year, she was a member of the group that designed and launched the national Head Start program. She was honored nationally for those contributions.
She earned a degree in nursing at Fifth Avenue Hospital in New York, where she was a research assistant to the renowned pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock.
Mills became a national leader in promoting animal welfare and encouraging animal visits to nursing-home residents and disabled people to improve the quality of their lives through the Delta Society. She was a founding and active board member of the society until her death, and a board member of the Champaign County Humane Society. She initiated the Pet-a-Pet program for regional nursing homes.
Crockett said Mills, born in Toronto, was orphaned at an early age and "never had family. I loved her like a mother, and she loved me like a daughter.
"The thing I came to admire about her, which drew me to her and sometimes intimidated me, was her zeal for learning. She had such a quick mind and loved to learn," she said.
In Mills' last seven years, she had a tutor teach her how to operate a voice-controlled computer, with all the software needed for someone who was virtually blind because of macular degeneration. In her 80s, "she was still conquering technology," took Braille lessons and "tried to teach me the Hawaiian language. She was so quick and it came naturally to her," she said.
Eloise Monsarrat of Moanalua Gardens, who taught under Mills when she was principal at Punahou and was inspired by her to join the Delta Society, said the educator often described herself as a "tough old bird."
"She wouldn't take 'no' for an answer if she was sure it would work for the children. She'd go ahead and do it, and when it worked, everyone was glad they let her do it," Monsarrat said.
Mills loved children and animals, and "when she saw a need, she'd figure out how to take care of it," according to Monsarrat, who remained a close friend over 50 years as they both frequently traveled back and forth from Hawaii.
Mills kept bouncing back from all the setbacks in life and continued working "for the love of it. She really enjoyed what she did. ... More people should get involved with something they enjoy doing as much as she did," Monsarrat said.
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