Mildred Grace Harlan, born September 18, 1920 passed away Tuesday, June 29, 2021 at Skyline Place, Sonora, California.
Despite COVID restrictions, she celebrated her 100th birthday in September of 2020 with her family cheering loudly outside of her apartment window. Born on September 18, 1920 in Sacramento, California to Lester and Grace Smith, she grew up with her beloved siblings Wilbur, Jack and Shirley. A graduate of
Sacramento High School, Millie studied Nursing at Sacramento City College prior to WWII. In 1942, she married Eugene “Gene” Harlan, a machinist on the Doolittle Project at McClellan AFB, and shared 72 years of marriage until Gene passed in 2014. They started their married life together living on the Harlan family ranch at Lopez Point – Lucia, south of Big Sur, where they raised their two daughters, Virginia and Beverly. Later, the family lived in Sacramento, Los Gatos, and Mt. Hamilton above Santa Clara County at Lick Observatory. Both Millie and Gene retired from Lick Observatory in 1990, and settled in Confidence/Twain Harte.
Millie was originally a city girl with an adventurous spirit, and loved to wander, explore, see new places and meet new people. Always dressed fashionably, including hat, gloves, and jewelry, Millie used impeccable etiquette, and sought to engage others in conversation. She was smart, resourceful, positive, resilient, and talented at all things, whether homemaking, or in the workforce. She worked as a medical assistant before marriage, volunteered as a 4-H leader, and after her daughters were raised, Millie worked as a visitor’s guide, gift shop and seismograph technician at Lick Observatory, in support of the University of California Santa Cruz. Even on her days off she would walk from her home to the main building to change the paper on the old seismograph or record weather station information. Never a licensed driver, Millie would often catch a ride with the postman for the 19 miles, hour-long journey down CA 130 to San Jose. She had the city bus routes mastered and, she would hop on and off the bus accomplishing her errands, or setting out on her many guided tour travels. She would often stay at Virginia’s San Jose home in the evening, and then head back up the hill the following day.
Millie loved capturing special moments with her camera, especially her Kodak 110. Despite her allergies, she loved animals and had many dog and cat companions over the years. She traveled early on with her husband and always hoped for more travel. After Gene’s death in 2014, she enjoyed taking an Alaskan cruise with her daughter, and visiting her sister in New York. She had many cherished friendships and nurtured them often with beautifully handwritten letters, cards and notes – always with exceptional grammar and proper diction. Her wry wit would keep everyone on their toes and smiling. She enjoyed music and theater, and attended seasons of the Sacramento Symphony, Columbia College Jazz, and Sierra Repertory Theater. Millie was a woman of deep faith, and witnessed her faith to her family, friends and strangers. She was a member of Los Gatos Christian Church, All Saints Catholic Church, the Twain Harte 50+ Club, and a devoted San Francisco Giants, fan.
Millie was survived by two daughters, Virginia Mancha (Joe) of Reno, NV, who survived her mother by only 27 days, and Beverly Grillo (Hugh Loomis) of Twain
Harte, CA. Other survivors are grandchildren Tara Tarvin of La Plata, MD, Frank Giamona Jr. of Reno, NV, Raschell Bouldt (Richard) of Roseville, Brenda Rallo (Vince) of Fernley, NV, Vicente Mancha of Stockton, Nicole Grillo of Mi Wuk, Janelle Hall (Cory) of La Grange; eleven great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandsons. She was predeceased by her parents, husband and siblings and son-in-law, Joseph Grillo Jr. and grandson, Martin J. Mancha.
Graveside inurnment August 19 at 1pm, the Little Chapel-By-the-Sea, where she will rest with her husband at El Carmelo Cemetery located at 65 Asilomar Blvd. at Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove, CA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of the Sierra, 20100 Cedar Rd., Sonora, CA 95370 or William Jessup University, 2121 University Avenue, Rocklin, CA 95765.
Terzich & Wilson Funeral Home in charge of funeral arrangements
- Date of Death: 06/29/2021
- Age: 100
- Residence: Sonora, CA
- Services: Memorial Mass at All Saints Catholic Church Wednesday 8/18 at 10AM