Community says goodbye to a legend

Published 10:49 pm Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Angela Cutrer
Elizabethton Star
It was a full house Sunday when at least a hundred of the friends and family members of Johnny Mills joined together at the Elizabethton High School gym to say goodbye to the former Volunteer standout.
Among the many honored guests were teammates who played football with Mills. Former University of Tennessee head coach Bill Battle was there as well to relate his sympathies.
Speakers included former Vols offensive lineman Jerry Holloway, former quarterback Dewey Warren — who related that Mills was hardworking and honest — and Eddie Brown, who remembered how Mills loved his family the most and how his friends will keep his memories alive forever.
Mills’ Elizabethton career had him starting quarterback in 1962 and 1st Team All-Big 7. He was an honorable mention All-State and was the team MVP and best defensive back. He switched to wide receiver and tight end at UT, where he lettered for three years, leading the team in receiving in 1966 with 725 yards and four touchdowns. His long-standing single game record of 225 yards stood for 30 years. His college career boasted 76 receptions for 1,120 yards and he was named All-Southern Conference in 1966. Drafted by the San Diego Chargers, he later coached at one college and two high schools.
Mills was inducted into the All-Northeast Tennessee Hall of Fame, the Elizabethton High Athletics Hall of Fame and the Carter County Sports Hall of Fame (2012).
In the 1998 book “Greatest Moments in Tennessee Vols Football History” by The Commercial Appeal, it says of a particular play that “Warren immediately threw to Johnny Mills, who made a spectacular one-handed catch while falling into the end zone…”
That’s how Johnny Mills rolled — right into the end zone. He did that with his high school career, his college career and his professional career. He even put that much effort into his successful family business in Elizabethton.
He was all in when it came to his family as well. Out of all of those wonderful events, Johnny Mills considered his family and friends his most important collaborations; those were the memories he held most dear.
That was reflected on a screen at the memorial Sunday. It said as follows:
Johnny Mills, 1945-2022
Brother, husband, father, grandfather, coach, friend and Vol for Life

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