Zelda Maybelle Mills

21 March, 192616 February, 2021

Zelda M. Mills passed away peacefully in her sleep on Feb 16, 2021 after a brief stay in hospice at Providence Medical Center in Everett, WA. Zelda was born March 21, 1926 in Bayard, NE to Leonard and Clara Birdsall. Zelda was the only child until her parents adopted baby Mona Darlene when Zelda was 4 years old, in the height of the Great Depression.

Zelda’s mother, Clara, a professional seamstress and avid musician, having played piano during silent movies, instilled in Zelda the art of sewing and also a love for music. Until her vision finally prevented her from doing so in her last few years, Zelda prided herself on sewing/altering clothing for herself and her children. As for music, her mother Clara formed her own 6-piece dance band that played several years in barn dances in and around Bayard, with 9-year-old Zelda playing the drums, often performing until midnight.

Upon the family moving to Issaquah and Seattle in her teenage years, Zelda took part in student government at Issaquah and Roosevelt High Schools.

Zelda met her future husband, 19-year-old U.S. Navy sailor John (Jay) Mills, when she and her mother were walking along a street during the New Year’s Eve celebration in downtown Seattle, Dec. 31, 1944. He shipped out mid-January 1945 aboard aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill to the South Pacific. Following a devastating attack by two Japanese Kamikaze planes, the ship limped back to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for repairs, allowing Jay and Zelda to reunite. The two married in August 1945. Daughter Sandra was born in August 1946 and son John was born in July 1951.

By 1956, having lived in several locations in the Northwest, the family moved from Seattle to Edmonds, WA. While Jay started and operated his own contracting business, Sandra and John attended school in the Edmonds School District, and Zelda pursued her love of painting and music while running the family and household. After some lessons, Zelda became an accomplished artist; painting, exhibiting and selling her artwork in the greater Seattle area.

In 1972, with the children away at college, Jay and Zelda moved into their new home in Monroe, WA, on a hill which overlooked their 110-acre horse ranch and racetrack and the Snohomish valley in the distance. She enjoyed attending church services and enjoyed visiting with a number of friends in and around her new home.

By the late ‘80s, they had built a new residence on some land directly below their previous home. From her kitchen window, Zelda enjoyed her view of the Cascade Mountains and the numerous horses eating and playing in the adjacent pastures.

While Jay was enjoying his hunting dogs and horses, Zelda had great love for her cats and dogs throughout the years. Several of her little dogs were a great comfort for her, both at home and often times during their frequent long road trips in their motorhome. It was touching to see how much she loved those little pets and to see their reciprocal love for her.

Zelda especially enjoyed spending time with her family and she and Jay were generous with their kids, grandkids and great grandkids. She cherished the time spent with any and all of her children and their offspring, always exuding her pleasure at their visits in her typical sweet and caring manner. Zelda is survived by her two children (and their spouses) Sandra (Craig) and John (Sue). She had four grandchildren Kelli, Brianna, Mark and Brigit and four great grandchildren Taylor, Ayla, Nora and Eliana.

The terms most often used by others to describe her include “sweet” and “always a lady.” She may have been small-framed but was mentally and emotionally very strong throughout her life. She was very proud of her and Jay’s 69-year marriage which ended when Jay passed away in 2015.

Private services were held by the family at Purdy Walters Floral Hills in Lynnwood.


  • Graveside Service

    Thursday, 25 February , 2021


Zelda Maybelle Mills

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Nancy McKenzie

26 February 2021

I am so sorry for your families loss. Zelda was so special and a sweet lady. I will always cherish the pleasure of meeting and getting to know her. I visited her and Jay at their new home on Ben Howard Rd several times. What a great hostess she was. She made me feel like I was always welcome and she could boost anyone spirits up at anytime. She was so kind and funny too. REST I N PEACE Zelda.

From the Family
From the Family