Joseph Leo Mills Sr., a retired tool designer and semiprofessional baseball manager, died of congestive heart failure Thursday at his Overlea home. He was 96.
Born in Hagerstown, he moved to Baltimore in 1939 and became a Glenn L. Martin Co. machinist. He attended night school and earned a mechanical drawing degree from the Maryland Institute. In 1943, he was awarded the Peabody Prize for design.
He later worked at the Diecraft Corp. in Sparks. At his retirement 30 years ago, it was a Bausch & Lomb division.
Mr. Mills played fast-pitch softball and baseball from 1945 to 1950.
From 1950 to 1970, he managed and coached the Overlea/Fullerton baseball teams.
During the winter months, Mr. Mills had clinics for managers and umpires on the rules of baseball.
Mr. Mills' interest in baseball continued throughout his life. He watched or listened to all the Orioles games, staying up to listen to late West Coast games. He discussed umpires' calls and managers' decisions and would shake his head in disbelief when the Orioles lost a close game, family members said.
He was a member of the St. Michael Holy Name Society and Knights of Columbus, and prepared and delivered food baskets, toys and food vouchers to needy families at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
For 30 years, he had been treasurer of the Belair Inn Pleasure Club, a group whose members provided community assistance.
In retirement, he took income tax preparation courses and volunteered to help friends, family and others to complete tax forms.
Mr. Mills was married to the former Evelyn G. Socks for 71 years. They and their many years of marriage were honored by Cardinal William H. Keeler on Feb. 10, 2002, at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. today at St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church, Willow Avenue in Overlea, where he was a member.
In addition to his wife, survivors include a son, Joseph L. Mills Jr. of Jarrettsville; two daughters, Beverly Meyler of Perry Hall and Mary T. Smith of Calverton; six grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. A daughter, Marleen Mills Barber, died in 2000.