After 71 years of embracing life, Steven Harry Mills passed away on Dec. 30, 2019, with his wife and life partner, JoDee, by his side.
Steve was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 25, 1948.
Out of high school, Steve began his career making one-off shirts in his apartment for the then popular hippie culture of Berkeley, Calif. This led him to ultimately building a multi-million-dollar apparel business in the Los Angeles area. In 1991, Steve decided to move his family to the Wood River Valley of Idaho to pursue his true calling of living a cowboy lifestyle. Once they were settled, a friend named Doug Webb recognized Steve’s business acumen and enthusiasm and offered Steve a position with Webb Landscape in 1999. Together they were able to make the transition to an employee-owned company. Steve continued to grow with the company and later served as CEO for five years before retiring in 2014.
After retiring as CEO from Webb Landscape, Steve focused his time and talents on economic development in Blaine County, Idaho. He was one of the founders of both the Wood River Economic Partnership and Sun Valley Economic Development, and his passion for helping local businesses to thrive was evident every day. Steve rallied the community around the urgent need for workforce housing, talent attraction and sustainable growth. As chairman of the board, Steve led the conversion from Sustain Blaine, the merger with Wood River Economic Partnership and the establishment of Sun Valley Economic Development as the go-to economic development organization for the Sun Valley region. His ability to work across city boundaries and councils, mobilize volunteers and continually push for smart economic development has left a legacy of community volunteerism.
Steve was a man whose accomplishments in life are exceeded by the impact he had on everyone lucky enough to know him. While he knew how to enjoy the finer things in life, he was no stranger to hard work. He could just as easily be found sharply dressed enjoying a duck risotto with a vintage red wine or mucking a paddock in the rain with rubber boots covered in dirt and sweat.
His passion for life was infectious. He always sought out the quality in life itself, recognizing that memories always outlast the things we buy. His variety of interests and passions included horseback riding, fly fishing, cooking, reading, music and entertaining friends and family in his beloved home in the Wood River Valley. Always ready for an adventure, Steve loved playing polo on one of his many trips to Argentina and traveling with his friends and family in his Airstream. A mentor to many and friend to all, Steve left this world a greater place because of his existence. He was a true example of the type of person we should all aspire to be.
Above all of his many accomplishments and interests, Steve held the love for his wife, daughters and grandchildren as his greatest love of all.
Steve was preceded in death by his mother, Jane Mills, and his uncle, Harry Johnston. He is survived by his wife, JoDee Mills; daughters, Sunny Mills and Cody Mills Noel; grandson, Dylan Mills, and granddaughters, Myla and Gwen Noel; son-in-law, Clinton Noel; brother, Michael Mills, and sister-in-law, Nita Joy Mills; nephew, Adam Mills; godsons, Michael Roveda and James Hayes; and an enormous number of friends and associates throughout the world.
A celebration of Steve’s life will be held in the spring in the Wood River Valley. In lieu of flowers, a fund memorializing Steve’s contribution to the Wood River Valley community has been established to provide an educational scholarship to the Sun Valley Culinary Institute. Donations to this fund can be addressed to Sun Valley Culinary Institute-Steve Mills, Box 3088, Sun Valley, ID 83353.