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Shirley Harriet Mitchell-Mills, Sister of Acclaimed Dance Theater of Harlem Founder, Dies at 73

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Shirley Harriet Mitchell-Mills, Sister of Acclaimed Dance Theater of Harlem Founder, Dies at 73The Dance Theater of Harlem community is mourning the death of the much beloved SHIRLEY HARRIET MITCHELL-MILLS, the sister of Arthur Mitchell, founder and artistic director emeritus of Dance Theater of Harlem--a leading dance institution of global acclaim. Ms. Harriet died on August 26, 2014. She was 73 years old.

Ms. Mitchell-Mills served as a devoted family member of the Dance Theater of Harlem, founded in 1969 by her brother Arthur Mitchell who is known worldwide as a pioneering artistic director, accomplished choreographer and educator.

Ms. Mitchell-Mills is well-known for the decades she dedicated to the school first as an administrator and then in her role as the school's boutique coordinator until her retirement.

Over the years, Ms. Mitchell-Mills garnered the loved of the organization's dancers, parents, students and countless patrons in the Harlem community.

"Oh gosh, everyone is like, Ms. Mills helped me with this; she helped me with that," notes Ms. Mill's daughter Jaynette Mills-Simmons regarding those commenting on the passing of her mother.

"People are all saying how they remember her from their first day at Dance Theater of Harlem. She helped me! She was so nice! She was so helpful," adds Ms. Mills-Simmon.

Ms. Mitchell-Mills had a diverse background which included studying and graduating from nursing school. She later went on to become a licensed interior decorator. While interior decorating was considered her natural talent, her focused at the school was serving as the boutique coordinator in the Dance Theater of Harlem for countless years until her retirement.

Ms. Mitchell-Mills also became known as a historian of sorts for the Dance Theater of Harlem where her brother Mr. Mitchell has built the organization into a multicultural institution attracting thousands of professional dancers and students from around the word.

Ms. Mitchell-Mills also travelled the world while working with the school where, according to her daughter, Ms. Mitchell-Mills seemed to run into former students globally.

"No matter where she went, everyone knew my mother," said her daughter Jaynette. "Even on tour in South Africa, she ran into someone from the school who knew my mother, Shirley Harriet Mitchell-Mills!," adds Jaynette.

The school, originating from a church basement, has an overwhelming number of former students who have become successfully engaged as dancers, musicians, technicians in production, stagecraft, wardrobe, instruction and more in the world of arts.

And, Ms. Harriet has been a part of their world providing unwavering guidance. It was well known that people would seek out Ms. Harriet for counseling and direction.

Born in Harlem, Ms. Mitchell-Mills was the youngest of six children of Willie Mae Herons Mitchell and Arthur Mitchell, Sr. She was educated in New York. She married Louis C. Mills, Sr. in 1953 and lived in Florida a short while. She returned from Florida to New York to raise her children including Louis, Jr., Indra (Debbie), Linda, Juli, Lisa, Brenda, and Jaynette. She lived in Mt. Vernon with her later years in Beacon, New York. She was a member of Beulah Baptist Church serving on the choir. During her later years, she became a devoted grandmother dedicated to her family and grandchildren, according to her daughter Jaynette.

Ms. Mitchell-Mills was preceded in death by her husband Louis Carroll Mills, Sr.; two sisters, Frances and Laura Mae Mitchell; and two brothers, Herbert and Charles Mitchell.

Ms. Mills Mitchell-Mills leaves to cherish her memory her older brother Arthur Mitchell, 13 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

In addition, she will be remembered by: Two sister's-in-law Marceline and Naoko (Susie) Mitchell; children Louis (PeeWee) Mills Jr., Indra (Debbie) Hough, Linda Mills, Juli Mills-Ross, Brenda Mills-Hinds, Lisa Lynch and Jaynette Mills-Simmons; Two daughters-in-law Joyce Mills and Rita Mills; five son's-in-law Isaiah Hough, Stanley (Sockie) Ross, Ronald Hinds, Leroy Lynch Jr., and Tyrone Simmons; Grandchildren Jamal, Suimani, Dana, George, Leah, Leroy, Joel, Raimi, Anthony, Ronae, Jaimi, Brandon and Tye; 14 great-grandchildren; one niece and nephew Sandra and Charles Mitchell Jr.; a cousin, Ella (Goodie) Wright and a host of family from Philadelphia, Pa.

Service Details:

Saturday, September 6, 2014
Church of the Intercession
550 West 155th Street, NYC, NY
Call (212) 283-6200 for information.
Wake/Viewing: 9am -11am
Service & Repast: Immediately Following Wake
In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations, which can be presented during the homecoming service.

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