Charles Mills Jr., 61, a former transit police chief and upstate police commissioner, was director of the Petroleum, Alcohol and Tobacco Bureau of the state Department of Taxation and Finance, working on the 87th floor of the south tower. No remains were recovered. Maie Mills of Brentwood, a retired emergency room nurse, didn’t think the police officers, firemen and pilots she’d met were solid marriage prospects. They were “not serious at all.” But Charles Mills Jr. was different.
After hearing how lovingly this transit lieutenant talked about his family, “I saw he had a heart,” she said. They married in November 1970. He also had a calm, confident and reassuring way about him. “He was bigger than life, truly,” his wife said. “He usually had the last say in everything. He was brilliant in figuring things out, whether something was worth doing in the long run.” He could be painfully honest, but, with “a smile to die for, he could crack a smile, tell a joke and break the ice in any situation.” A good listener, perceptive about people’s feelings, “he had a calming effect. It was as if even if things don’t turn out right, the future would be bright.” Mills grew up in Brooklyn, one of four children. A Vietnam veteran, he rose over 16 years in the transit police to two-star chief, before leaving to become police commissioner in Schenectady, then Troy, she said. One of their four sons is a NYPD officer, another a firefighter, a third a Border Patrol agent in California, while another works in information technology. Their daughter took longest to cope with their father’s death, Maie Mills said. “She was her father’s girl and her heart was broken.” And she herself, now 63, has had to adjust as well, taking on tasks she’d have left to her husband before. “It’s a matter of realizing there’s no one else … if you are the only one that can do it, you will do it.” – Carol Polsky