Philip James Mills


February 29, 2024

Philip James Mills, 89, passed away at Worland Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center on February 25, 2024 with his loving wife by his side.

Phil was born on December 12, 1934, in Napa, California to Edward Elmer and Emily (Boniguso) Mills. He and his sister, Joan, were tragically orphaned at a very young age. He was separated from his sister, whom he dearly loved, as he was raised in Finly, California by their paternal grandmother, Goldie Mills. Joan was sent to their maternal grandmother, Santina Boniguso.

Phil was taken under the wing of his uncle, Jim Mills, who instilled a passion for the outdoors. Phil started a life-long enjoyment of hunting, fishing, camping and cards. He also met a pastor who ignited a passion for Jesus, God and the service of humanity. Following high school, he attended L.I.F.E. Bible College in Los Angeles, where he met his wife-to-be, Berta Benitez. The couple met in August of 1959 and were married on May 21, 1960 and remained side by side for the next 64 years. While attending college, he worked for Lockheed Martin Aircraft until he was assigned to pastor his first church in Salmon, Idaho.

While living in Salmon, the couple switched denominations and were received by the United Methodist Church and appointed to the Golden Valley Parish, which consisted of four communities: Benchland, Moccasin, Hobson and Utica in Central Montana. From there, they moved to Huntley then Lavina, commuting to Billings where he would expand his education. After graduating from Rocky Mountain College, Phil and his family moved to Eastern Kansas to serve Scranton while he worked on his master's degree at St. Paul School of Divinity in Kansas City. The family returned to Montana where he served in Anaconda, Great Falls and Hardin, Montana. His last charge was Basin, Wyoming, where he served from 1995 to 2006. Upon his retirement, the couple moved to Worland where Berta operated her counseling practice. Phil updated his education, earning his Wyoming Professional Counseling License to assist.

His love, understanding and sympathetic nature were appreciated by all. He fully retired in 2012 to give more time and effort to his beloved yard, fruit trees, vegetable garden and flowers.

He was preceded in death by his parents, and sister, Joan Shurtz in 1991.

Survivors include his beloved wife, Berta of Worland; sons, Edward, David and wife, Christy; grandchildren: Erin (Dillon McLeod), John (Kate) Mills, Kimberly, Nathan, Iris and Kali; great-grandchildren: Theo and Eira; nephew, Jeff Shurtz (Phil Carlile), Rodrigo Benitez; nieces, Josephine Quegada, Lisa Deskin, Raquel Navarro, Rebecca (Kenny) Vest and Ruth (Enrique) Best; brother-in-law, Arturo and Chaga Benitez.

Thank you to those who cared so much for Philip in the end, we met so many who have dedicated their lives to those who need such care and you are blessed by God. A special thanks to Steve and all who were there for he and Berta through the past few years. There are too many to mention, but all loved the same!

Dad, you are the best person we know, always giving with no expectation for yourself. It is said to be as Jesus would be, as you live, and that is who you are. You are missed and we love you.

A Celebration of Life will be held 11:00 a.m., Friday, March 1, 2024 at the United Methodist Church with Pastors Kayilu Pfoze and Rey Moreno officiating. Memorial donations may be made to Circle J Retreat Camp and sent to PO Box 524, Worland, WY 82401. Online condolences may be made to http://www.bryant


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