Cecile "Susie" Margaret Mills, 68, a long-time Pajaro Valley resident, educator, activist and master gardener died of cancer May 14, 2012. She leaves behind many friends who remember her strong and fair-minded spirit.
Born in New York, NY, she graduated from Seattle's Ballard High School where she was editor of the school paper. Four years later, in 1964, she graduated with a degree in anthropology from the University of Washington.
Thereafter, her interests in education and technology led her to San Jose State University and a degree in instructional technology. She taught elementary school in the Silicon Valley before moving to the Pajaro Valley in 1971.
Once located in the Pajaro area, she taught for the Parajo Valley Unified School District and joined, as an active member, the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and the Pajaro Valley Cesar Chavez Democratic Club, where she most frequently took the minutes.
Cecile also taught English as a second language to adult learners at . She is remembered there as a dedicated teacher and mentor.
Cecile was a life-long learner. After receiving an AS in digital media from Cabrillo College, she went on to work as an editor and publisher, helping to promote Watsonville's El Andar magazine and later commuting to Monterey where she worked for McGraw Hill and Kagan Media.
As an activist, Cecile helped to establish "Farm Not Harm" practices in the Pajaro Valley, curbing the use of methyl bromide and the spraying of other fumigants. She served on both the Monterey and Santa Cruz County Mental Health Commissions, and was a regular volunteer at where, on most weekdays, she could be found helping to prepare the noon meal for the homeless.
"Seaseal," as she caller herself online, loved her MacBook and was an ardent blogger (including for Watsonville Patch). Her studies in permaculture and horticulture led to regular blogging on sustainable living, vermiculture (worm farming), composting and recycling.
Online and in the streets, she fought to keep big box stores out of her community while promoting local businesses like the Farmers' Market and Plaza Vigil.
An enthusiastic member of Freecycle, she "re-gifted" many items and was the driving force behind
In 2006, she was honored at the Buena Vista Landfill for naming Vision Recycling's new food-scrap product "Eco-Comp," going home that day with the prize—a bottle of California cabernet.
In 2011, shortly before she became ill, Cecile was elected the first secretary of the revitalized Parajo Springfield Community Grange where her vision and energy inspired many of the events taking place today.
Cecile is survived by her sister, Sarah Carter, of Seattle, Washington.
A Celebration of Life is planned at the Parajo , located on the corner of Elkorn and Werner roads, on Friday evening, July 20.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes, Inc. 150 Second St., Watsonville, CA, 95076.