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August 11, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Obituaries Obituaries (August 11, 2004)

James Dean Mills
Bicyclist, retired computer engineer

James Dean Mills, a Menlo Park resident, died August 4 in a bicycling accident. He was 65.

Born in Spencer, Iowa in 1939, he earned engineering degrees from Iowa State University and MIT, where he worked on the influential Multics operating system. He was an expert in the development of computer language compilers, and he joined Digital Equipment Corp. in its formative years.

In his 25 years with Digital, Mr. Mills was responsible for much of its large computer system software development, and subsequently for its European engineering organization. He retired from Intel, which acquired part of Digital in 1998.

His family recalls his quiet passion for life and adventure. Among the many activities he pursued were rock climbing, hiking, gardening, sailing, skiing and amateur bicycle racing. From the late 1960s to the mid-1970s he was an active member of the MIT Outing Club, and he spent many weekends climbing New York's Shawangunk Mountains.

He was an avid reader, and enjoyed photography and classical and jazz music, his family said, and his interest in French cuisine led him to become an expert chef and wine connoisseur.

Mr. Mills took up serious cycling in the 1970s, and it became an integral part of his life, family members said. He raced with the Fitchburg Cycling Club in Massachusetts for several years, and returned to racing after he retired in California, where he led group rides and raced as a member of the Western Wheelers Bicycle Club, Almaden Cycle Touring Club and Alto Velo Bicycling Club.

He was a top fundraiser for the Multiple Sclerosis Bike Tour, and recently fulfilled his dream of climbing Alpe d'Huez, Le Tourmalet and Mont Ventoux while on a trip to France.

His survived by his wife Dr. Caroline Carder; his daughters Cate Mills and Monica Devroude of Boise, Idaho; his sister Mary Sundblad of Sioux Rapids, Iowa; and one granddaughter. He was preceded in death by his parents John Vernon and Gwen Mills of Linn Grove, Iowa and his brother Jay Mills of Arnolds Park, Iowa.

In lieu of flowers, the family prefers memorial gifts be made to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, www.laf.org.


Harold Vreeburg
Insurance agency partner

Harold Hugo "Harry" Vreeburg, a 50-year resident of Woodside, died July 31 in Aptos after playing 18 holes of golf, his favorite sport. He was 83.

Mr. Vreeburg was born in Redwood City. During World War II, he piloted the B-17 Flying Fortress for the Army Air Corps. He flew bombing missions over Germany until he was shot down returning from a mission during the Battle of the Bulge.

He suffered extensive injuries and returned to England to recuperate. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the European Theater Ribbon, and was inducted into the Caterpillar Club (for fliers who parachuted out of a disabled aircraft).

After he was honorably discharged from the Army with the rank of captain, he earned a business degree from San Jose State University and joined George Boring Insurance Co. The firm eventually became the Boring-Reifenrath-Greenwold-Vreeburg Agency.

Mr. Vreeburg belonged to many civic organizations. He initiated the Redwood City Little League and served as its president and chairman. He was a past president of the Redwood City Optimist Club and a charter member of Redwood City Elks Lodge #1991. He was instrumental in developing the Redwood City Emerald Hills Golf Course, served as president of the San Mateo County Insurance Agents Association, and was named Man of the Year by the Redwood City Junior Chamber of Commerce. He also served as chairman of the Redwood City Red Cross Drive, and the Stamp Out Crime Crusade.

Mr. Vreeburg is survived by his wife, Wanda; his five children, Sheila Vreeburg of Menlo Park, Michael Vreeburg of Half Moon Bay, Cathy Ann Vreeburg of Redwood City, Jan Vreeburg of Santa Rosa, and Sandra Lees of Menlo Park; a sister, Sylveen Fabbro of Redwood City; a brother, Walter Vreeburg of Tracy; and 10 grandchildren. Family members say they wish to thank Frank Hannig for his help and support.

A celebration of Mr. Vreeburg's life was held August 6 at Ralston Hall at the Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont.


John R. Wilson
Community theater director

John R. Wilson, who served as the managing artistic director for the Menlo Players Guild in the 1960s, died August 1 in Forest Grove, Oregon. He was 71.

Mr. Wilson was born in Kansas City, Kansas. During the Korean War, he spent two years in the U.S. Army producing touring shows for the troops. He then earned bachelor's and master's degrees in theater arts from San Jose State University.

During his long career as a director, he worked with such actors as June Lockhart, John Carradine, Ruth Buzzi, Pat Paulson, Dan Daley and Broderick Crawford.

He was a lifetime fellow of the American Community Theater Association, now the American Association of Community Theatre, and served as its president in 1973-74. He headed the American delegation to the International Theater Congress in Monaco, hosted by Princess Grace.

Mr. Wilson was a director in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; and Fort Wayne, Indiana. During his 10 years at the Lincoln (Nebraska) Community Playhouse, he inspired interest in building a $1 million theater and workshop, say family members. He also acted in many productions.

Mr. Wilson retired to Forest Grove, Oregon, in 1988. He is survived by his wife, Barbara; a daughter, Janet Lynn McQueen of Milwaukie, Oregon; a son, Steven Ross Wilson of Orlando, Florida; and four grandchildren.

The family prefers donations to a local community theater or AACT.


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