Bruce A. Mills, a retired Internal Revenue Service agent who was part of a team that investigated Vice President Spiro T. Agnew and Gov. Marvin Mandel, died Sunday of complications after surgery at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. He was 74.
Mr. Mills was born in Linton, Ind., and moved to Dundalk in 1937, when his father took a job as a steel worker at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point plant.
After graduating from Dundalk High School in 1952, he attended Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College, for two years before enlisting in the Marine Corps.
After being discharged from the Marines, where he attained the rank of sergeant, he resumed his college studies at the University of Baltimore, where he earned a bachelor's degree in accounting in 1961.
From 1961 until retiring in 1989, Mr. Mills, who had a top secret security clearance and was an expert in railroad tax law, was a large-case manager for the IRS.
"He was in charge of the fraud group that put away Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, Gov. Marvin Mandel and Baltimore County Executive Dale Anderson," said his wife of 22 years, the former Josephine Bass.
After retiring, he joined the task force that investigated the savings and loan collapse in Rhode Island in the early 1990s.
Despite a busy professional life, Mr. Mills always found time to participate and volunteer in a variety of community activities.
Thirty years ago, he joined the Dundalk-Eastfield Recreation Council and later served as its treasurer, vice president and finally president.
Mr. Mills had been president of the Dundalk Gridiron Club and head coach of its ages 9-11 football team.
Because of his involvement with youth recreation programs, he was inducted into the Greater Dundalk Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.
"He loved coaching those kids, and his big thing was that you learned the rules and played to have fun," said Mrs. Mills. "He also wanted to instill good sportsmanship in all of them."
He was a member of the Greater Dundalk Commission on Community Excellence and had been a member of the Dundalk Centennial Committee.
For more than 30 years, Mr. Mills was deeply involved with the Heritage Association of Greater Dundalk, which plans the community's annual Fourth of July celebration and fair, and had served as its treasurer.
Of his community involvement, Mr. Mills told The Dundalk Eagle in a 1996 interview that it can be "pleasurable or it can create some headaches."
"Bruce's death is a major loss to the community; ...he was always willing to step in and do what needed to be done," said John F. Weber, former director of recreation and parks for Baltimore County.
"He had enthusiasm and organizational skills, and you have to remember when you're doing the kind of community work Bruce was doing, the salary is double zero," Mr. Weber said. "He is one of the top community leaders I've ever known and was the pinnacle of [the] volunteer spirit."
Joe Christy, president of the Dundalk Sports Hall of Fame, said, "Whenever we needed something done, he was always the first to volunteer."
Wayne Laufert, editor of The Dundalk Eagle, was a longtime friend. "He simply seemed to be involved with everything going on in Dundalk. He was quite a presence here, and you simply couldn't avoid him," he said.
Friends said that Mr. Mills, who could be gruff at times, had little patience with those who volunteered to help on a project and then reneged on their commitment.
"You had to wonder when the guy had time to eat or live," said Tom Toporovich, former secretary to the Baltimore County Council and a Dundalk community leader.
A decade ago, Mr. Mills had an idea and launched an annual Christmas parade. "He said, 'If Macy's can have a Thanksgiving Day parade to bring Santa Claus to town, then Dundalk can have a Christmas parade to bring Santa Claus to town,'" Mrs. Mills said.
For his civic activism, Mr. Mills was named Citizen of the Year by the Optimist Club of Dundalk in 1996.
He was also an active member of the Patapsco Masonic Lodge 183, the Acacia Club, Dundalk Athletic Club, and St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Dundalk.
Mr. Mills was an avid sports fan and enjoyed watching televised sporting events. "If there was running, a ball and plenty of sweat, he'd watch it," Mrs. Mills said.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Duda-Ruck Funeral Home, 7922 Wise Ave., Dundalk.
Also surviving are two sons, Michael Mills of Georgetown, Del., and Steve Mills of Plattsburgh, N.Y.; a stepson, Daniel "Rusty" Perry of Parkville; a stepdaughter, Christina Bosley of Dundalk; a sister, Patricia Ambrose of Kitty Hawk, N.C.; and four granddaughters. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.