Byrdie L. Mills, 97, foster parent, nurse

February 13, 2004

Byrdie L. Mills, a homemaker, foster parent and nurse, died of pneumonia Feb. 6 at her daughter's East Baltimore home. She was 97.

She was born and raised Byrdie L. Jenkins in St. George, S.C., and moved to Baltimore in 1924. She was married a year later to Elmer Mills, a truck driver who died in 1988.

For years, the couple lived on Arunah Avenue in West Baltimore where, besides raising their daughter, they cared for 15 foster children.

Mrs. Mills later earned Red Cross home nursing certification and worked as a private-duty nurse from 1965 to 1970. She also attended Carver Vocational-Technical High School at night, earning a certificate in tailoring.

"She made clothes for her family and anyone who asked her to," said her daughter, Regina M. Mason of Baltimore.

In 1972, she and her husband retired and bought a small home in Linkwood, Dorchester County, where they enjoyed gardening, fishing and hunting. A decade later, the returned to Baltimore and moved into Wyman House, a senior public housing facility.

Mrs. Mills, an accomplished needleworker, had taught macrame for years at senior centers in the city. She also enjoyed traveling.

She was a 73-year member of the First Baptist Church on Caroline Street, where services were held last night.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Mills is survived by 10 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and 15 great-great-grandchildren.

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