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Millie Lee Stephens Gill

Millie Lee Stephens Gill

Services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 11, at Trinity Temple Assembly of God for Millie Lee Stephens Gill of Artesia.

Gill, 92, formerly of Artesia, continued her walk with the Lord early Sunday morning, Dec. 6, at Lakeview Christian Home in Carlsbad.

Pastor Bobby Argo will officiate at the services, with interment to follow at Twin Oaks Memorial Park. Pallbearers will be Eddie Forlines, Casey Wilson, Kent Bush, Israel Bush, Patrick Bowen and Jared Bowen. Honorary pallbearers are Nickolas Seibel, Robert Gill, Johnny Puckett, Jonathan Puckett Jr. and Jeremiah Bush.

She was born Nov. 11, 1923, in Clovis, the youngest of the nine children of James Carrol Stephens and Mary Jane (Whitfill) Stephens.

The family moved to Artesia when Millie was 2 years old, and she lived here for her entire life prior to entering Lakeview in 2009. Despite being born legally blind, she excelled in the Artesia Public Schools through the eighth grade, when she was offered a scholarship to the New Mexico School for the Blind in Alamogordo – an opportunity which her father would not allow her to accept.

In 1941, she met and married Louis Robert Gill, and she gave birth to Evelyn Elaine in 1942. Mr. Gill joined the United States Army in 1943 and was serving in the European Theater during World War II when their second child, Louis Robert Jr., was born in 1944. After Mr. Gill’s return, Debra Jean came in 1950, and Peggy Lynn was born in 1956.

Millie was introduced to her Savior around 1955, the beginning of a relationship which would sustain her throughout the rest of her life. Mr. Gill left the family for California shortly after Peggy’s birth, and Millie supported the family of five despite her disability and lack of formal education. She took in ironing, ran the childcare service at First Baptist Church for 25 years, cleaned houses and businesses around Artesia, and provided private childcare for a number of families – walking here and there across the city with a song in her heart and on her lips.

She was most proud of what she considered her true vocation: her service as a lay minister, through which she was invited to travel throughout eastern New Mexico, West Texas, and southern Colorado, ministering in small churches and homes.

Later in life, she also had the opportunity to travel on mission trips to Israel, Switzerland and Hawaii. She loved to travel with her children and grandchildren, visiting California, New England, Colorado and Oklahoma by bus and plane. She began line dancing competitively with the Senior Olympics team from the Artesia Senior Center, competing several years at the state level.

Millie had a love for life and for the Lord, and was assisted throughout her life by hundreds of friends and volunteers who provided transportation, helped her maintain her home, and provided companionship. She and her family were and are grateful for this community support, which allowed her to live alone in her own home, continuing her work and ministry, until the age of 86.

Survivors include her son, Louis Robert Gill II, and wife Carole of Poteau, Okla.; daughters Debra Jean Seibel of Silver City and Peggy Day Johnston of Novato, Calif.; friend and caregiver Jenny Forlines and husband Eddie of Artesia; eight grandchildren; and numerous great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents; four sisters; four brothers; and her oldest daughter, Evelyn Elaine Husted.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to the Friends of the New Mexico Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Santa Fe, which provided free access to the large-print books and books on tape that Millie enjoyed throughout her life.

Arrangements are under the direction of Terpening & Son Mortuary. Condolences may be expressed online at www.artesiafunerals.com.