Joyce Elaine Mills

December 25, 1940October 5, 2018

Joyce Elaine Mills went to be with her Lord and Savior on October 5th, 2018 at 77 years of age, she passed away with family at her bedside. She was born in Hutchinson, KS on Christmas Day 1940. She grew up on a wheat farm outside Inman, Kansas and lived there until she graduated from high school. At 5 years of age she had rheumatic fever that kept her from entering school, but the next year joined her peers at the 2-room rural grade school called Sparta, and finally to Turkey Creek grade school. She attended Buhler High School and was very involved in Future Homemakers Association graduating in 1959. After graduation she attended Bethel College in North Newton, KS for two years and met Charles F. Claassen. They were married in 1961 and moved to Chicago, IL. She finished college at National College of Education in Evanston, IL, the oldest teaching college in the US. They moved to Winston Salem, NC and she began her education career in a kindergarten classroom.

In 1965 she had a daughter, Carla Jo, in Chicago, IL. They moved to London, England in 1967, where she had her son, Christopher John. They returned to the states in 1968 and settled in North Kansas City, MO. Joyce overcame many physical maladies including a brain tumor in 1969 and Parkinson ’s disease later in life. Joyce was very involved with NKC Hospital Axillary and Rainbow Mennonite Church and later taught and substituted for many years in the NKC School District.

Her love of family and heritage had her spending many summers and vacations back on the family farm and at wheat harvest. She remarried in 1981 to Ralph J. Mills and gained 3 more children: Laura, Rob, and Randy. They traveled the US and Canada in their motorcoach and were very involved in the National Motorhome Association. She lived in the North Kansas City area for many years before moving to Liberty in 2004.

Joyce had a love for her family! She cherished and loved helping care for her grandchildren. A recent update to the family Autobiographical book, A Tree Grows In Kansas, boasted the following quote about core values and the way you try to live your life: “Christian upbringing and the closeness I feel with my family, all the way from my grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, siblings, children and grandchildren, is a special heritage of which I am privileged to be a part of. Living in a metropolitan area with people from many walks of life, I find this to be a rare gift which I grasp tightly to. I am thankful for my family and the way they taught me to share with one another, help each other, and pray for each other!” Joyce was preceded in death by her parents, Olin and Tillie Schmidt, a wheat farming family in Kansas; her older sister Carolyn Buller, who died of breast cancer in 1995; her husband Ralph J. Mills who passed in 2007. She is survived by two siblings: Mary Schmidt of Moundridge, KS and Wayne and Amber Schmidt of Hutchinson, KS; A former husband and friend Charles F. Claassen; Her children: Carla Schmitz of Liberty, MO; Christopher and Aimee Claassen of Parkville, MO; Laura Mills Davidson of Phoenix, AZ; Rob Mills of Phoenix, AZ; Randall Mills of Chandler, AZ; and 5 grandchildren: Courtney Claassen, Shelby Macomber, Nicholas Claassen, Kelsi Schmitz, and Maggie Claassen. She also has many nieces, nephews, and family that will miss her dearly.

Joyce was baptized in and a member of Hoffnungsau Mennonite Church in Inman, KS and later joined the Rainbow Mennonite Church, in Kansas City, KS…where she was a member until her journey home on October 5th, 2018. A celebration of Joyce’s life will be held on Thursday, October 11, 2018 at 11:00 AM at Rainbow Mennonite Church, 1444 Southwest Blvd, Kansas City, KS 66103. Following the service, the family invites everyone to stay for a meal together and to share their memories of Joyce. The family suggests contributions in her memory to the Rainbow Mennonite Church.


  • Celebration of Life Thursday, October 11, 2018

Joyce Elaine Mills

have a memory or condolence to add?

Whitney Harris

October 9, 2018

I have so many fond memories of Joyce. She was such a lovely lady! Carla, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I’m happy that you have your faith and each other to comfort you.

Amber Schmidt

October 9, 2018

My thoughts and prayers are with you all. She will be missed and I will miss her lots. I have lots of fun memories about harvesting at the farm and out in western Kansas with her. She was so much fun to be with. Love you Joyce.

Steve Schmitz

October 9, 2018

So sorry too hear this..Joyce was as wonderful and genuine as they come..My thoughts are with you all.