A well-known Okanagan resident and Canadian rock legend, known as “The Voice,” is speaking up after losing a loved one to COVID-19.
Darby Mills is best known for her time with the Headpins, but her heart is broken after losing her dad last week to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Mills said her father, Staley Gordon Mills, died at the age of 90 at Noric House, the long-term care facility in Vernon where he lived.
“He was a great man and he worked his whole life to supply his four children with everything he and mom possibly could,” Mills said.
“(He was) just a wonderful guy that we are all going to miss greatly for sure.”
Her father’s death has Darby urging people to take the pandemic seriously.
“Before you lose someone to this…wash your hands, throw on a mask,” she said.
Mills said she hadn’t been visiting her father in person during the pandemic because she wanted to ensure she wasn’t unknowingly bringing COVID-19 into his long-term care home.
She waved to him from outside, tried Zoom calling, and connected regularly by phone but feels the decreased contact during the pandemic worsened his dementia.
“He knew me as the 6:15 call every night. ‘Hi sweetheart,’ is what he’d say. I don’t think he knew who I was. However, at least I knew that he was getting something from the outside as well as (from) all my siblings,” she said.
An outbreak was declared at Noric House in late December. The facility has recorded 51 cases amongst residents and staff and two deaths.
“It has been a tough year thinking we are doing the right thing and then, 11 months in, realizing somehow someone brought COVID-19 into his care home where we thought he was safe and it took his life,” she said.
Now Mills is remembering her father.
As a young athlete, Stanley Mills played high-level hockey with the Oshawa Generals before an injury cut short his career.
Returning to B.C. he raised a family, worked setting up government liquor stores, and contributed to a local Lions Club
“I haven’t talked to anyone in years, that knew him as a young man, that hasn’t got a wonderful story to say about how generous and kind my dad was which makes me feel like I’ve got a lot to live up to,” Mills said.