By MARGARET BLOHM
For the Times-Herald Newspapers
DEARBORN – Joseph “Ron” Mills, a resident of Beaumont Commons, Dearborn since 2015, recently took advantage of a “Bridge to Home” apartment on campus.
“This is a wonderful option that has really helped my dad,” said Rosemary Mittlestat, Mills’ oldest daughter who lives in Livonia.
Marcia Filek, senior director of residential services in Dearborn, said Bridge to Home apartments are fully furnished apartments designed to provide the support residents need to recover after a surgery, injury or illness.
“Unexpectedly, Dad had to go to the hospital on his 95th birthday on September 1,” Mittlestat said. “He’s back in his independent living apartment after recuperating in Bridge to Home. This made it so much easier for our family.”
Mittlestat and her sister, Linda Kemp, a Taylor resident, are regular visitors to the campus. On a recent visit, Mittlestat and her dad shared how their “family miracle” originated in Canada.
Mills was born in Hamilton, Ontario, approximately a three-hour drive from Detroit’s Ambassador Bridge. “Even though I had American citizenship from my dad, I was a British subject,” said Mills, who had to renounce his Canadian citizenship after he moved to Michigan at the age of 19.
“To apply for a job here, I had to get a certificate proving I was a U.S. citizen,” added Mills, who served in the U.S. Army at Camp Gordon during the Korean war, worked as a conveyor design engineer at Palmer-B, a manufacturer for the steel industry, and later retired from an engineering position at Ford Motor Co.
Mittlestat described her dad as a bona-fide bachelor until one of his close friends in Hamilton insisted he meet a widow with three young girls.
Mills confirmed he was very reluctant until he met Melvina, who had been widowed for two years and had three little girls. He said, “All at once, I had four beautiful blondes.”
“At the time, we lived on Dundern Street in Hamilton,” said Mittlestat. “When my parents married, Dad changed our lives forever and moved us all to Michigan. Our family refers to it as the “Miracle on Dundern Street.”
The family settled in Taylor, and Mills shared how he was able to buy their house with a VA loan.
Mittlestat recalled how her mom took citizenship classes at Fordson High School in Dearborn.
“Dad adopted us a year after they married, and our family expanded to include our brother Ron,” she said.
The couple enjoyed 51 years of marriage. After his wife died, Mills lived in a condominium for six years. It was a friend, looking for a senior living community, who asked him to go to a lunch and tour of Beaumont Commons.
“I wasn’t looking for a place — my friend was — but I remember thinking, ‘I could live there,’” Mills said.
Mittlestat agreed that her dad’s decision to move was already made when he brought them to check out several apartments.
“We kept coming back to the same one on the second floor that he enjoys today and overlooks beautiful green wetlands,” she said.
When Mills was asked about the best part of campus living, he quickly replied, “socialization.”
“I like to have a routine. It’s key,” said Mills, who uses an electric scooter for longer trips around campus, though makes it a point to walk to the bistro every morning to have breakfast with friends.
Mittlestat beams when she hears her dad describe his life and what he enjoys, adding that it’s part of the miracle on Dundern Street.