James Edward Mills
The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1980.
The former editor of the Birmingham Post, James Edward Mills was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on July 28, 1900, son of James E. And Mattie J. (Clay) Mills. He attended Little Rock public schools and Princeton University. He served in France during World War I with the 1108th/Aero-Squadron, U.S. Signal Corps with the rank of sergeant.
His newspaper career began in 1921 as an eye witness to a department store explosion. This event earned him a reporter's job, and the Pine Bluff (Arkansas) Commercial a scoop story over its newspaper competition. His next job as a reporter was with the Daily Oklahoman from 1923 to 1925. In 1926 he moved to Florida to be the managing editor of the Miami Tribune, and then the editor of the Palm Beach Times in 1927 . After the Florida boom passed he was for short periods associated with the Cleveland Press and the Cincinnati Post. He next became the managing editor for the Memphis Press-Scimtar from 1928 to 1930 when he was sent by the Scripps-Howard Company to Birmingham as editor of the Birmingham Post-Herald from 1950 until he retires on January 1, 1967. He was also a member of the board of directors for the Birmingham Post Company.
Under his leadership he and his newspaper staff sponsored and campaigned for any causes. He was a leader in the fight to lower public utility rates, to eliminate loansharks which result in the 1960 Alabama Small Loan Law, to reorganize the Alabama Girls Industrial School in Birmingham, to change Birmingham's form of government to the mayor-council system, to have the right for a newspaper's editorial expression on days of elections, and to organize and promote the "Good Fellow Fund" whereby money is solicited by the Post-Herald to buy Christmas presents for underprivileged children. In 1979 over $40,000 was raised and more than 8,000 children benefitted from these gifts. He encouraged the development of the University of Alabama and Medical Center, supported the Southern Research Institute, and was a charter member of the Birmingham Downtown Action Committee.
Mr. Mills' professional affiliation is the Alabama Press Association of which he was president in 1960, and he was nominated by the Birmingham Jaycees for and received the U.S. Steel "Journalist of the Year" award for the daily newspaper field in 1966. He is a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Sigma Delta Chi Professional Journalistic Society, the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and the American Publishers Association.
In his civic career Mr. Mills has been chairman and president of the Community Chest Appeal, president of the Birmingham Rotary Club, member of the Alabama Committee, Newcomen Society in North America, and president and member of the Board for the Anti-Tuberculosis Association. He is a member of the Mountain Brook Baptist Church. On November 11, 1921, he was married to the former Elise Miller Austin from Rockwell, Texas. They have two sons: James E. III and Richard C. Mills.
Mr. Mills is deceased.