August 24, 1918 – January 2, 2022
On August 24, 1918 in Lisbon, ND, Josephine (Gutting) Rice and Willard Rice welcomed into the world their daughter, the second of seven children, Clara Mildred (Millie). As eventful as this was, elsewhere around the globe World War I was winding down and the pandemic Spanish Flu gripped the US.
When Millie was five, the family moved to nearby Edgely, ND where her father ran the local creamery until the building burned down. They returned to Lisbon where her father opened Rice’s Shoe Repair on the busy main street.
In 1925 she started school under the strict tutelage of the Sisters at St. Aloysius Catholic School. The rest of the world was living the high-life of the roaring 20’s and Sears Roebuck opened it’s first retail store.
Millie enjoyed her teenage years at Lisbon High School. She excelled at both studies and sports being captain of the girl’s basketball team and catcher for the softball team all while working an after school job at JC Penney’s. Elsewhere the Social Security Act was signed into law and Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Pacific.
The year after graduating, 1938, she became a farmer’s wife, marrying Clayton Shipton. Her jobs were endless, driving the grain truck, baking fresh bread, preserving the garden and orchard’s bounty for winter and taking care of their four children Colleen, Sandra, Linda and Beverly. She was known for her cake decorating and made the wedding cake of many couples in the community. She still found time to join some of the other farm wives for an afternoon of coffee, smoking cigarettes and playing cards, establishing life-long friendships.
Life threw her many challenges that would test her strength, character and faith. In 1979 Clayton and Millie sold the farm and retired to sunny Mesa, Arizona.
They soon parted ways and she was faced with the reality of nearing sixty and starting a new life.
Shortly after, a neighbor introduced her to a tall, handsome man. They soon fell in love and on September 14, 1985, she was united in marriage to Thomas Ballinger.
Millie and Tom spend many happy years golfing, playing cards with friends and enjoying the sunshine.
As the years passed and life slowed down, they moved into the Brookdale Springs adult living center in Mesa. The staff at Brookdale soon fell completely in love with her and she couldn’t leave the dining room with out being stopped numerous times for big hugs. She became quite the celebrity there when she became the oldest residence in the facility at 101.
She and Tom made many memories together before he passed away in November of 2019 just months before the Covid pandemic (the second pandemic in her lifetime) would limit their activities and contact with others.
On January 2, 2022, Millie left this world with her three daughters by her side. Those 103+ years were filled with good and bad times but she passed away knowing that she was loved fully by many.
She leaves behind three daughters, Sandra Kay (Richard) Rathburn, Linda Lou (Carl) Peed and Beverly Jean (Lee) Smick. four grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren. She had the joy of meeting her only great-great grandson just days before her last breath. She was proceeded in death by her husband, Thomas Ballinger, daughter Colleen Yvonne Grotte, son-in law Carl and her parents and siblings.