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Prominent Beavercreek developer, philanthropist dies

Pictured in 2017, Bob Mills, chairman of Mills Development and Synergy Building Systems, in his office on the fifth floor of Pentagon Tower, a building his company built. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF
Pictured in 2017, Bob Mills, chairman of Mills Development and Synergy Building Systems, in his office on the fifth floor of Pentagon Tower, a building his company built. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

A prominent Dayton-area developer and philanthropist Bob Mills has died at 70.

Mills was the founder of Beavercreek-based Synergy and Mills Development. The company created a Department of Defense-focused corridor off Interstate 675 with clients such as Kettering Health Network, Wright State University and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The company is also behind other commercial projects throughout the region from Dayton Children’s Hospital Child Health Pavilion, to Allure apartments in Centerville.

Jeff Hoagland, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition, said Mills leaves an incredible legacy for the Dayton region and was guided by a commitment to his community and a desire to help others.

“His work as a real estate developer attracted investment and jobs into our community, and his work with defense contractors deepened the region’s connection to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. As a former DDC board member, he understood economic development and worked to support our community’s growth,” Hoagland stated. “He and Barbara’s charitable work through the Gala of Hope raised millions of dollars to fight cancer, giving hope and support to patients and their families. We are saddened by his passing and our prayers are with Barbara and their family.”

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The Presidents Club of Dayton named Mills its 2017 recipient of its Citizen Legion of Honor Award.

Bob and Barbara Mills are the namesake donors behind the Dayton Children’s Hospital Mills Family Comprehensive Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.

Bob Mills lost his first wife to cancer and a decade ago his granddaughter was diagnosed with leukemia, was treated at the pediatric hospital and eventually made it into remission, leading to the family to be strong supporters of the hospital’s cancer program.

“Cancer was something that had struck his family and it meant a lot to him to do what he could to help ease the pain and suffering of others who contracted it,” said Phil Parker, retired CEO of Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.

Dayton Children’s said the Mills donated $1 million during the Reaching New Heights capital campaign to support the cancer and blood disorder center in the new patient tower, which earned them the right to name the space that opened in 2017.

In 2014, Bob and Barbara Mills founded the Gala of Hope Foundation and hosted an event that brought in millions to support the fight against cancer.

They repeated the event in 2016 and donated a portion of funds raised that year to help create the living tumor biobank, Dayton Children’s hospital said.

“His deep concern for children fighting cancer touched the lives of hundreds of families in our community and provided comfort to them as they journeyed through their difficult treatment. His enthusiasm, perseverance and kindness were an inspiration to all of us. He will be deeply missed,” Deborah Feldman, CEO of Dayton Children’s Hospital, said in a statement.

Parker, who said he had known Bob Mills for more than 30 years, said Mills was proud of his family, successful at his business and made a lot of connections in the area through both his cancer fundraising and his development work.

“He made a lot of friends and gained a lot of praise from others because of the work that he did,” Parker said.

U.S. Rep.  Mike Turner said in a statement that “Bob Mills left his imprint on our community through his significant quality of development, which included being a leader in developing our community for defense businesses and spurring jobs outside of the fence. Furthermore, Bob was a pillar of philanthropy, dedicating an immense amount of his personal time to fundraising for cancer research. He will be deeply missed.”