Francis Byron Mills
Army Colonel, Training Director
Francis Byron Mills, 90, a former Army colonel who later directed an executive training program for postal managers, died Sept. 27 of a stroke at his home in Virginia Beach.
Col. Mills, a native of Mangum, Okla., entered the Army Reserve in the late 1930s after graduating from the University of Oklahoma. He was activated into the regular Army in 1941 and first served with a horse-drawn unit of the 80th Artillery Division. In 1943, he was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services.
Based in London, he worked with British and French forces in support of resistance operations in Europe leading up to the Allied D-Day invasion at Normandy in 1944. Col. Mills landed on Omaha Beach, leading an OSS special forces detachment with the 1st Infantry Division. He coordinated French Resistance activities with operations of the 1st Army as the Allied forces moved through France.
Later in 1944, he was reassigned to China, where he commanded OSS special operations against Japanese forces north of the Yangtze River until the war ended. Resistance forces under his leadership destroyed rail lines, bridges and enemy troop trains. In 2002, Col. Mills wrote a history of this period, "The OSS Secret Wars In China."
He was assigned to the U.S. War Office in London for two years after the war, commanding an intelligence detachment. After serving in the 11th and 82nd Airborne divisions, he was named in 1955 to a unit at Fort Bragg, N.C., that organized the Army's new special forces group.
He attended the Army War College at Carlisle, Pa., and in 1960 became commandant of the 1st Special Forces Group on Okinawa, providing military advisers to several Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam. After additional postings in the United States, he retired in 1967.
His decorations included two awards of the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star.
After his retirement from the Army, he took an assignment from the U.S. Agency for International Development and was placed in charge of the National Police Training Academy in Da Lat, Vietnam. In 1969, he was named director of the Postal Services Management Institute, an executive training program for postal managers. He retired in 1984.
Col. Mills was a member of the OSS Society, the Special Forces Association and the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.
He lived in the Mantua section of Fairfax County from 1967 to 2003, when he moved to Virginia Beach. He attended Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax City.
Survivors include his wife of 65 years, Virginia Mills of Virginia Beach; two children, Cynthia A. Britt of Virginia Beach and Robert S. Mills of Fairfax County; and a granddaughter.
Eleanor Mary Istvan
Real Estate Agent, Volunteer
Eleanor Mary Istvan, 78, a real estate agent and volunteer, died of congestive heart failure Sept. 14 at her home in Leesburg.
Mrs. Istvan, who was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., moved to the Washington area in 1948 after marrying. She worked as a secretary in the 1950s for the Montgomery County Finance Department.
After raising her family, she obtained a real estate license in 1980 and sold real estate for Unlimited Properties and Associates in Rockville until 1992. She also was sales director and assistant manager for Days Inn in Rockville.
She was a former president of the Town and Country Woman's Club of Rockville and was a fundraiser for the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University. She also served on committees that led to the development of a countywide hospice system in Montgomery.
Mrs. Istvan lived in Rockville from 1955 to 1992, when she and her husband moved to El Paso. In the late 1990s, they moved to Leesburg.
She was a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Rockville and a past president of its sodality. Her hobbies included cooking, sewing, reading and crafts.
Survivors include her husband of 57 years, Edward Istvan of Leesburg; two children, Mary Errera of Houston and Mark Istvan of Montgomery, Ala.; a sister; and two grandchildren.