By: Dr. Demond White
An endless list of adjectives can be used to describe Dr. Van Frank Mills: husband, father, doctor, great friend, awesome listener, super adventurous, a fanatic chainsaw lover, and the most important of all, God-Fearing. Dr. Mills understood it was better to give than to receive and he absolutely and literally lived in this truth. The testimonials of his selfless sacrifices are both remarkable and infinite.
Like a cowboy pinning a bull in his own personal rodeo, Van took life by the horns daily. Van was such a lover of life and possessed so much joy. He was radiant and brought immense humor to the office daily. Patients, staff and fellow doctors; he was wonderful to all. He made a point to enjoy each day no matter the circumstance or challenge it presented.
One of the characteristics I admired most about him was his calling as a medical expert to help his fellow mankind. Van always took the title of physician to a more human level. Van spent over 25 years as a Family Medicine Physician literally lending a helping hand in the beautiful community of Dickson and surrounding area. He touched countless lives as he delivered over two generations of babies.
When people talk about Van, it is impossible for them to not smile. He was a funny guy and a joy to be around. Van’s smile was infectious and he always wanted everyone around him to be comfortable and to have a great day. The same remained during and even after his brain tumor diagnosis. His default response to the questions “How are you doing?” and “How are you feeling?” was always “wonderful!”
Van worked extremely hard to go exactly where he wanted to go in life and do exactly what he wanted to do. He made sure to stop and smell the pine and magnolia trees, travel the world, say I love you often and most importantly provide help whenever and wherever it was most immediately needed. His legacy of caring was proven by the outpour of love Van and his family received following his diagnosis, after his passing and still today.
Van’s diagnosis came as a colossal surprise and weighed heavily on many of us. Van told me many times, “Work hard…play hard.” He would exclaim to me how one should enjoy various aspects of life. Be spontaneous and make those memories now. Take that trip. Don’t put life off until retirement. Make sure you do all things to the best of your ability.
I realize I used the word literally many times in describing the highlights of my experiences with Van, but to me he was exactly as I have described. He didn’t just talk life as so many do from day to day, but he genuinely lived it. It literally sums up what I will miss most about my partner and my friend, the unofficial lumberjack.
Van knew first hand that life is short and you have to make it count, to fulfill your purpose in order to be fulfilled. As we celebrate Dr. Van Frank Mills’ life, let’s vow, as a tribute to him, to make every moment literally “WONDERFUL!!!”