Chris Mills — Labor Lawyer, Sailor and Chef
Christopher Henry Mills, labor and employment attorney, passed away on September 6, ending a 16-year battle against lymphoma. He was two weeks shy of the second anniversary of a stem cell transplant and seven weeks shy of his 70th birthday.
Chris was a Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Washington and Lee, where he was captain of the debate team. He had a J.D. from Yale and an L.L.M. from Georgetown. Having served in the Navy JAG during the War in Vietnam, he then served AT&T for a number of years as in-house labor and employment counsel. Leaving for private practice in 1989, he helped form, then headed, Collier, Jacob & Mills, a boutique law firm that merged with Fisher & Phillips LLP in 2005, where he was partner until his death.
Over his career, Chris served as chief collective bargaining negotiator for a number of employers. Elected by colleagues a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, he was a Founding Member of the Academy of New Jersey Management Attorneys and elected to the Board of Directors of the Equal Employment Advisory Council. He spoke frequently at human resources and continuing legal education seminars, and authored numerous professional articles. He was repeatedly listed in numerous “best” and “super” lawyer lists, and was “lawyer of the year” on at least two occasions.
Chris will be remembered as both consummate professional and “lawyer’s lawyer.” He had a quick wit and a sharp pen, whether writing a brief to the Supreme Court or an article on the latest developments in labor and employment law.
Born in Oklahoma City and raised in Denver, after moving to the East Coast, Chris became an avid sailor. For 21 years he piloted his 32-foot sloop Watermusic on summer cruises from Long Island Sound up and down the East Coast, from Maine to the Chesapeake. A creative chef, he loved whipping up unusual recipes in the kitchen and galley, especially those involving barbeque. A major technophile, he had home electronics the likes of which others could only imagine. He owned and loved four Labrador Retrievers and eleven cats, most of whom were Maine Coons or Maine Coon mixes. A self-described “political junkie,” during his long illness he avidly followed the national political circus.
A 34-year resident of Chatham, New Jersey, Chris is predeceased by his parents, Joseph Henry Mills and Virginia Hunt Mills, of Denver. He leaves behind his wife of 34 years, Rosemary Wright, and son, Bryan Wright Mills, of Washington D.C.
A funeral service will be held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chatham, on Saturday, September 16, at Noon, followed by interment in their memorial garden and a luncheon reception at the church.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Episcopal Relief & Development’s Hurricane Harvey Response Fund (http://www.episcopalrelief.org/hurricane-harvey-response) to assist the many people displaced by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, ravaging the coasts of the U.S. and Caribbean islands during Chris’s passing.