Lee Wayne Mills, noted Rehoboth Beach artist 

August 26, 2020

Lee Wayne Mills, 73, passed away Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, at Harbor Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Lewes following a long illness.  Lee was born in Virginia Jan. 20, 1947, the son of the late Orbin and Dorcas Mills, and was a devoted brother to the late Robert Mills.

Lee’s father served as an Army officer and was stationed at many bases around the world. Lee had a breadth of world experience during his younger years, and as a teenager he was fortunate to be able to visit many of the world’s great museums and art galleries in Europe. Lee graduated with honors from Ripon College in Wisconsin with a bachelor’s degree in art.

He worked as an art administrator throughout the Washington-Baltimore area during his career. He was director of exhibitions at Maryland Hall in Annapolis and assistant director of Montpelier Cultural Art Center in Laurel, Md. Lee worked with the architects and City of Gaithersburg to develop the Gaithersburg Art Barn.

Lee and his late husband, Donald Gardiner, were together for more than 45 years and married in their beloved Provincetown, Mass. They were active in amateur and professional theatre in the Washington area. Lee would leave his distinctive artistry on many pieces of scenery at the King's Jester Dinner Theatre, Toby’s Dinner Theatre, Montgomery Playhouse, Silver Spring Stage and many others. Lee and Donald retired to Rehoboth Beach in 2000 where they owned and operated the Coastal Frameshop and Gallery.

Lee was appointed as interim executive director of the Rehoboth Art League in 2015 where he spent several years administering the operation of the art league.

Lee’s artwork has been shown in galleries up and down the East Coast and as far west as Texas. His work is part of numerous public and private collections. He was represented locally by Gallery 50 in Rehoboth Beach and has shown as well at the Philip Morton Gallery and the Peninsula Gallery in Lewes.

Lee had a wide range of knowledge on many subjects. He was passionate about good food, and was known for his culinary skills. Family and friends were privileged to enjoy his fabulous meals, and were always entertained by his sharp wit and sense of humor. Lee loved writing, and immersed himself in the study of poetry, crafting beautiful poems, and had begun writing a memoir of his life.

He is survived by his nieces Debbie Holden Davalos and her husband Eric of Pasadena, Md., Cindy Snapp and her husband Jim of Chester, Md., and their families; his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Jeffrey and Fran Gardiner of Needham, Mass., and their family; Julie Cole (Bobby) of Methuen, Mass., Karen O'Connell (Tom) of Millis, Mass., Stephen Gardiner (Christine) of Plymouth, Mass., and their families; and many loving friends.

A memorial service will be held Saturday Sept. 26, at 3 p.m., at Parsell Funeral Homes & Crematorium, 16961 Kings Highway, Lewes, where friends may begin visiting at 1:30 p.m. (Doors will not open till this time.) Due to the dangers associated with the spread of COVID-19, all attendees shall wear a mask and maintain social distancing at all times while attending any aspect of the funeral services.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Lee’s name to CAMP Rehoboth, 39 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971, the Rehoboth Art League, 12 Dodds Lane, Henlopen Acres, DE 19971, or to the Sitar Arts Center, 1700 Kalorama Road, NW, Suite 101, Washington, DC 20009 where the Lee Wayne Mills Scholarship will be created.

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