Illinois College trustee emeritus, the Hon. Richard H. Mills ’51, retires after 56 years of service


United States District Judge Richard H. Mills ’51 retired from the bench Sept. 1.

Judge Mills received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Illinois College, where he was a varsity debater and orator. He was on the law review and graduated fourth in his class from Mercer University School of Law in Macon, Georgia, and he received an LL.M. degree from the University of Virginia. He was admitted to the bar in 1957. 

Mills was Cass County state’s attorney from 1960 to 1964, circuit judge of the Illinois Eighth Circuit Court from 1966 to 1976, and justice of the Illinois Appellate Court Fourth District from 1976 to 1985, when President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the federal bench. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 19, 1985, his birthday. He assumed senior status on Oct. 7, 1997.

MillsA Bronze Star veteran of the Korean War where he served with the 3rd Infantry Division, Mills stayed in the U.S. Army Reserve and retired from the military with the rank of colonel. Thereafter, he was appointed a major general in the Illinois Militia by the late Gov. James R. Thompson.

Mills hails from a long line of attorneys, his father and grandfather having both been admitted to the Illinois bar. Additionally, Judge Mills’ grandfather served in the Civil War and his father served in World War I.  

Illinois College Board of Trustees Chair Steven R. Mills ’77 said, “Judge Mills is a proud alumnus, a great friend of the College, and a true gentleman. An elected Alumni Trustee from 1978 to 1983, a very active member of the board of trustees from 1986 until 2002, and an emeritus trustee until today, we have been deeply grateful for his commitment to his alma mater and for his example of devoted service to Illinois College.”

About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Illinois. With an enrollment of more than 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs. In 1932, the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

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