Fred was a successful real estate investor and restaurateur with a passion for sailing that started when he was 21 and led him to sail thousands of miles around the world. He was a devoted husband and father who instilled a similar passion for the ocean in his family and raised them on the water.
There are many tales of Fred’s extraordinary seamanship including when he sailed through the storm that sunk the Pride of Baltimore off the coast of Bermuda in May 1986. He and his wife Eileen were hove to for five days in the storm and sustained damage to the rig of their sailboat, Valhalla. Once the storm calmed, he used one sighting on his sextant when the clouds parted for a few minutes and a jury-rigged sail to get their crew safely into Bermuda, 150 miles away. He also crossed the Atlantic in 1975 from the Canaries to Barbados in a 39-foot steel boat, High Seas, that was becalmed for over 10 days, which led to a 34-day crossing where he and his crew arrived just as they ran out of food and water.
Fred and Eileen owned several legendary racing sailboats that he adapted to fast cruising, including the C&C 50 Red Leg, a custom Morgan 60 Cayenne, Peter Blake’s Farr 68 Ceramco NZ, and the 80-foot maxi Kialoa V. On Kialoa, he and his family made many fast passages, including crossing the Atlantic from Gibraltar to Dominica in 17 days and from Greenport, New York, to Bermuda in two days and 19 hours in a sustained 50 knots of wind and huge seas.
Fred invited friends, family and strangers on board these boats, and changed the lives of many people by introducing them to a lifelong passion for sailing. One friend reflects, “Fred and his family bringing me sailing to Bermuda and the Caribbean changed my life forever. Teaching me to sail big boats set me on the right path.” Fred was a generous man who helped many people in times of need.
As a businessman, Fred owned a number of bars and restaurants in Lake Placid with his brother Rob, including Kerry’s and Gilligan’s. In partnership with his wife Eileen, he founded several well-known restaurants including Three Guys & I, The Caribbean Cowboy and The Farmhouse.
He is survived by his wife, Eileen Wikoff Mills, and his two sons Frederick A. Mills IV and Nelson M. Mills. He is predeceased by his parents Frederick A. Mills II and Patricia (Nelson) Mills, and his two brothers David Mills and Robert Mills.
There will be a celebration of life on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Mills family home at 30 Greenwood St., Lake Placid. In lieu of flowers, please donate in Fred’s name to the St. Thomas Yacht Club’s Youth Sailing Program. Fred was a passionate supporter of STYC’s sailing program and loved supporting the growth of young sailors. Checks can be made out to the Virgin Islands Sports Trust (add STYC Youth Sailing Program to the memo line) and mailed to Virgin Islands Sports Trust, P.O. Box 600167, St. Thomas, VI 00801.