Wayne Mills Remembered During Alabama Memorial Service

photo credit: ©2013/Foxland Hall-Melinda J.P. Harlan, All rights reserved.

photo credit: ©2013/Foxland Hall-Melinda J.P. Harlan.

Country singer-songwriter Wayne Mills was remembered during a memorial service on Sunday afternoon (Dec. 8) in the auditorium of Arab High School in his hometown of Arab, Ala.

Wayne, who died at age 44 on Nov. 23, was the lead singer of the Wayne Mills Band, which toured nationally for more than 15 years and recorded seven albums. Artists including Jamey Johnson, Blake Shelton and Taylor Hicks opened for the Wayne Mills Band early in their careers.

Mills’ black boots and his acoustic guitar, decorated with the numerous signatures of the friends he made during two decades of touring, were displayed in front of his black casket, which was adorned with a small University of Alabama sticker. The singer-songwriter’s guitar strap was draped simply across the casket’s top.

His white cowboy hat and crimson University of Alabama No. 91 football helmet were encased in glass boxes beside his casket. Before the service, several of Mills’ songs played as his widow, Carol, greeted friends and family. She handed each mourner a black guitar pick embossed with “WMB” and his band logo on the front and “Wayne Mills” and “1969-2013” on the back.

The service opened with Heather Little Standifird singing Willie Nelson’s “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.” Pastor Don Ware of Highlands Baptist Church read from Psalms and recited Wayne’s obit. He gave an example of Mills’ selflessness and generosity. “When the tornadoes hit here in Arab, he was the one who came and put on a performance for those who lost everything in that storm.”

“Those grieving with us today and around the world–his reach was that far–do so because of the man that Wayne was, not necessarily his talent,” said Mills’ friend Gary “Sarge” Sargant said. “While he was an extremely talented and gifted artist, the only thing bigger than his talent was his heart. A man deeply committed to family, he was also deeply committed to his musical family. He was a friend, a mentor, a critic when needed, but more importantly, he was a voice for each and every artist doing it the right way and working hard. The music always came first for Wayne.”

Mills was on the board of directors of the Outlaw Music Association; it was announced that the Guardian award has been renamed the Wayne Mills Memorial Award. “It is up to us to move forward and make sure that his dream of a family of musicians and artists, each and every one of us, happens and comes together where we can love one another and be kind to one another and help one another as he did on a daily basis,” said Sargant.

After the service, the family gathered for a private burial.

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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