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Obituary: Milla, Mary Rose

Fri., March 21, 2014

Age 93

MILLA, Mary Rose (Age 93) Passed away peacefully at Sullivan Park Care Center on March 18, 2014.

Mary was born September 15, 1920 in Spokane, WA.

Mary was the first born of five children born to Italian immigrants, Bernardino and Francesca (Ianni) Milla.

Mary grew up in an Italian community in Spokane, often referred to as, Minnehaha.

Many of the Italians in the Minnehaha district came from Grimaldi, Provence of Cosenza, Calabria, Italy.

Mary was raised in a devout Catholic family and she continued her devotion to the Church by giving her time to the priests and Jesuits of Gonzaga University as well as The Sisters of the Holy Names.

Mary attended Holy Names Academy for grades 1-3 and then Cooper Grade School for grades 4-8.

Mary returned to Holy Names Academy for high school and graduated in June, 1937.

Mary attended Keating Secretarial College, graduating in June, 1938, on a $100.00 scholarship, to be paid back as soon as she began work.

Mary’s career in civil service began on January 6, 1941 when she accepted a job at the Northwest Air District, at Felts Field, as a stenographer.

Mary was one of the first women employed by the Air Force in the Spokane area.

Two years later in 1943, Mary was transferred to the Spokane Air Depot, now known as Fairchild Air Force Base.

Mary was soon promoted to the Supervisor of the Publications Unit, Adjutant General’s Office and later Commander Secretary, where she supported many Colonels at Fairchild Air Force Base.

She retired from Fairchild AFB on January 3, 1986 with 45 years of service to the Federal Government.

Mayor James Chase declared January 3, 1986, as Mary Milla day in Spokane recognizing her contributions to the military community, Fairchild AFB, to the city, and its people.

In addition to her career at the AFB, Mary was deeply and devoutly involved with volunteer work and serving others as well as offering her financial support to her causes.

Mary volunteered her services for over 25 years to the Jesuits Native American Missions in the NW including; Sacred Heart Mission, Nespelem, WA; St. Mary’s Mission, Omak, WA; St. Ignatius Mission, MT; St, Michael’s Mission, Inchelium, WA.

Mission work was Mary’s salvation and a blessing, and gave her, her life purpose.

Mary was also one of the founding members of Fairchild Credit Union; now known as Global Credit Union.

She served as the first Secretary-Treasurer, then Secretary, member of the board of directors and Director for the Washington Credit Union League.

Other accomplishments include; President of the Holy Names Academy Alumnae Association, charter member of Catholic Business and Professional Women, Vice President and Secretary President, of our Andante Toastmistress Club, founder of Retired Fairchild Women, member of the Greater Gonzaga University Guild, The Salvation Army Board Member, St. Vincent de Paul Board Member, Morning Star Boy’s Ranch Board Member, House of Charity volunteer, devoted member of St. Aloysius Parish attending mass daily.

In her leisure time Mary enjoyed traveling with friends and family, bowling, snow skiing, and golf.

Mary was a devoted Aunt to her 18 nieces and nephews and 33 great-nieces and nephews.

She is preceded in death by her parents Bernardino and Francesca Milla, her sister’s Edith (Bud) Haggerty and Elda (Glenn) Wheeler, her brother Etter (Patricia) Milla and is survived by her sister Helen Fillingim.

A special thanks to the caring staff at Sullivan Park Care Center.

A Vigil Service with the Rosary will be held on Friday, March 21, at 7:00pm with visitation from 4:00 to 8:00 pm, at Hennessey-Smith Funeral Home, 2203 N. Division St., Spokane, WA 99207.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, March 22, at St. Aloysius Catholic Church, 330 E. Boone Ave, Spokane at 10:00am followed by a social gathering at the Knights of Columbus with Interment at 3:00pm at Holy Cross Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: The Ministry Institute at Gonzaga University, Sisters of Holy Names, Gonzaga University - Italian Heritage Scholarship, or The House of Charity.

To see Mary’s online memorial and to sign the guest book please visit funeral arrangements entrusted to


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