Community Foundation(s): Brainerd Lakes Area
Award: 2017 BLACF Award in Philanthropy
The Mills family is the epitome of a multi-generational example of philanthropy in our community. Stewart C. Mills Jr. was taught philanthropy from a young age. His father had him deliver turkeys with the trimmings to families anonymously on Thanksgiving every year when he was a boy.
Born and raised in Brainerd, Stewart C. Mills Jr. was also taught hard work and a love of people. As his father built his businesses, Mills Fleet Farm and Mills Auto, he impressed upon his son a number of values such as honesty and integrity which has shaped him into the philanthropist and community advocate he became.
When Stewart joined the family business, he says he started at the top, which meant tarring the roofs of all the company buildings. In business, Stewart conducted himself with compassion and a love of all people. He encouraged everyone around him to be the best that they could be. Before selling Mills Fleet Farm, he had over 6,000 employees, all of whom greatly respected him and who he respected and supported, as well.
Stewart C. Mills Jr. is a strong supporter of the Brainerd Jaycees, the Crow Wing County Fair and city parks and ball fields, just to name a few. As a former member of the armed forces, the 194th Battalion-MN National Guard, the VFW and the American Legion are near and dear to Stewart Jr.’s heart. Along with supporting these organizations, he has been known to pay the tabs for veterans at local establishments.
Many of his contributions to our community have been anonymous. Because of his wishes to remain anonymous and contribute to his community in a sometimes very personal way, we may never know the full extent of how much Stewart C. Mills Jr. has made an impact on our community.