Frank and Annette Mills are the 2016 Strawberry Days Grand Marshals
By Mary Burgin
The Grand Marshals that have been chosen this year are Frank and Annette Mills. Both Frank and Annette have a long history of being involved with the celebration.
He and Annette recently returned from their second LDS mission, and were surprised to be asked to be the Grand Marshals. He said they served their first mission for 24 months in the Marshall Islands as member support missionaries for the church. Their second mission was to the Florida Tallahassee mission where they served as the mission office couple.
Frank recalled memories since he was a child of Strawberry Days. Growing up in Pleasant Grove, he said he can remember looking forward to the celebration each year. “My roots run deep in Pleasant Grove,” he said. His great grandfather, John Brown, was the mayor of the city for 20 years. His parents were Ray and Lilly Mills. His mother was involved with the senior citizens for many years and his dad served as the post master.
After graduating from Pleasant Grove High, Frank said he attended BYU, and then served in the National Guard. He then married Annette, and proceeded to go to work for Gordon Allred at Allred’s Builder’s Supply. He then had an opportunity to go to work as the building inspector for Pleasant Grove City, where he worked for 34 years. He eventually worked his way up to being the City Administrator. During that time, he served for 10 years as the Strawberry Days chair.
He said he was honored that he and Annette were asked to be the Grand Marshals, but he said the true honor, “is not about me.” He noted that the real honor goes to the many people that started the celebration, as well as making sure it successfully continues each year.
“If you look back,” he said, “Strawberry Days honors go back to many people. He indicated that this would include the Loaders, the Adamsons and many others who started the celebration.” He explained that they wanted to have a fun time when the Strawberry crops were harvested through hard work.
Additionally, Frank said that those that started the rodeo that is such a large part of the celebration today, deserve thanks. He then went on to explain that Dr. Linebaugh helped to make the rodeo property available to the city. He also said that thanks goes to the the Gillmans and the Green families, amongst many others, who have worked to continue the tradition of the rodeo over the years.
He then noted that others that have been a large part of the celebration over the years would include the Melendez family and their City of Fun carnival. He said they have donated ride tickets to the children participating in the children’s parade each year. He also said that the Eagles, Kiwanis and Lion’s clubs have all donated their time to the celebration for many years. Frank said the Fugal family has been very supportive to the effort in many ways, including donations, over the years. He also thanked Terry Marchbanks and Betty Memmott for their time in working with the contestants for Miss Pleasant Grove.
When asked what he felt was his biggest accomplishment in chairing the committee, he quickly said that having activities, such as Huck Finn days, that all of the children can participate in, free of charge. “Every child that wants to participate in the fishing, face painting and games, can do it without charge,” he said. There is also a free concert where free strawberries and cream are provided.
“Strawberry Days has helped to bring our family together over the years,” said Frank. He noted that they all have fun not only participating in the current celebration, but also recalling past celebrations.
“Annette was my co-chair over the years,” he said. He complimented her by saying that despite the numerous things that were expected of him before and during the celebration, she was always supportive. “I have the best wife in the world,” he observed.
Annette was raised in Lindon, but said that she remembers the carnival and its attractions and rides over the years. She also said that it has been a time when all of their children that can come to Pleasant Grove to enjoy the tradition.
Frank and Annette are the parents of 5 grown children. They are Brad, Chad (deceased), Craig, Natalie and Bart. They are also the grand parents of 20 children. “We have so much fun sitting around together telling stories,” she said. She added that sharing memories are a very happy time for mothers.
Annette was born in Price, but came to Lindon at a young age. She attended elementary school in Lindon, but came to Pleasant Grove for junior and senior high. She said that when she graduated, she attended college in Cedar City. She added that during Strawberry Days this year, she will have her 50th high school reunion.
She then said that probably one of her fondest memories as a young woman of Strawberry Days was when she ran for Miss PG in the Strawberry Days pageant. She then explained that there were actually two different contests in those days. The Miss PG pageant winners were picked by popularity. Out of those winners, judges would pick three winners for the title of Miss Strawberry Days and her two attendants. Annette then explained that she was too young to compete in the following year’s Miss Utah pageant in Salt Lake, so being picked as the second attendant was the farthest she would go. Her talent was playing the piano.
By being part of the court, Annette said that she was able to attend the rodeo and several other activities for the first time.
Annette said that besides being busy raising a family, she worked over the years. “I started with head librarian Dot Smith in the old library for just 2 hours a day,” she noted. After working there for a year, she took a job at Central Elementary as a lunch supervisor. She then worked in a part-time position, and then was made full-time at Oak Canyon junior high in the library. When an opening became available at Pleasant Grove junior, she went to work there in the library. She eventually went to work in the counseling office at that school, where she retired. Her tenure with the district was 25 years.
After she and Frank returned from their second LDS mission, Annette was diagnosed with cancer. She described having the disease and going through treatments as, “tough but a growing experience.” She said it helped her to grow closer to her Heavenly Father, as well as gaining a new perspective on life. She also said that she and Frank are taking their children and their mates on an Alaskan cruise in July to, “celebrate life!” “We all enjoy being together,” she said. She looks forward to all of them having this fun experience together. She said being a cancer survivor has given her a greater perspective on life.
Annette then explained that throughout her treatments, she had the best caregiver in the world—Frank. “He spoils me and is my strength,” she said. She added, “Life is a journey.”