Captain Mary Mills of Pender County, earned her Diploma in Nursing from Lincoln Hospital in Durham in 1934. She then earned a certificate in Nurse midwifery, as well as Bachelors and Masters degrees from New York University.
In 1946, Mills returned to North Carolina to direct the public health nursing certificate program at North Carolina College (now NC Central University) in Durham. Later that same year, Mills joined the US Office of International Health of the US Pubic Health Service.She spent the next 20 years sharing her knowledge and skills with people around the globe. Mills directed USPHS efforts in Liberia, Lebanon, Chad, South Vietnam and Laos. In each of these countries she established maternal/child health clinics, nursing schools and health education programs.
Mills was awarded many prestigious honors from heads of state and international relief agencies. After her retirement she returned to her beloved Pender County where she participated in numerous community and civic activities.