Former Clark County Sheriff and New York Yankee “bonus baby” Harold “Bud” Mills died Saturday surrounded by his family at a hospice facility in Columbus after battling cancer.
He was 76.
“He was the most friendliest, most outgoing (man) … There wasn’t a person he met that didn’t like him no matter where they were,” Mills’ wife, Victoria, said Monday afternoon.
Mills has battled serious illnesses, beating lung cancer in 1976 when he had his left lower lobe removed, Victoria Mills said.
In 1989, Mills had a malignant melanoma on the back of his neck, eight years ago he had a massive stroke and had two open heart surgeries.
“He fought a hard battle,” his wife said.
Mills was a Clark County deputy, elected sheriff in 1968 and served two terms.
South Vienna Police Chief Pat Sullivan, who retired from the sheriff’s office after 30 years, said he began working for Mills a month after he took office.
Sullivan said Mills introduced him to law enforcement. Just 29 people worked in the sheriff’s office when Sullivan began there in 1969.
“He was a good sheriff. For the little bit of the budget we had … he made due with what we had,” Sullivan said. “He got the job done.”
He said he respected Mills for the work he did as the sheriff, but also considered Mills a friend that he continued to stay in contact with until his death.
“Back then we were not only employees we were like a big family,” Sullivan said.
Mills graduated in 1957 from Springfield High School, where he was the first high school baseball catcher to be awarded All Ohio from 1955 to 1957, according to his obituary.
He was a catcher and a member of the Springfield Baseball Hall of Fame and was signed by the New York Yankees as a Bonus Baby, according to his obituary.
A bonus baby was an amateur player who signed for a large enough contract that the team was required to keep him on the major league roster for a full season or two instead of playing him in the minor leagues, according to Baseball-Reference.com
He later graduated from Ohio State University and was inducted into the FBI Academy.
“He was a man who walked with dignity. Just his presence required respect and he gave it,” Mills’ wife said.
She said he will be missed.
“He was a very special man. He was dear to my heart, my soul mate. I’ll totally be lost without him,” Victoria Mills said.
A gathering of friends and family will be held from 10 a.m. to noon April 22 at Jackson Lytle & Lewis Funeral Home with a memorial service following at noon. His burial will be at St. Bernard’s Cemetery.