Marsha - A Lifetime New Philadelphia Resident

A lifetime resident of New Philadelphia, O., Marsha Byers Mills has spent her adult life caring for others. In addition to rearing her daughter and son, she spent her work career as a chiropractic assistant until she was able to "retire" and watch her grandchildren, which she thoroughly enjoyed. Because of her commitment to her career, she traveled to many seminars dealing with pain, emotions and chiropractic care.

Now 60, Marsha has a legion of friends who can attest to her compassion and concern. She is a longtime member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church and as a young adult with her parents and sister provided catering services for events at the church at no charge. Marsha volunteered in the nursery and also taught Bible school in church, and on a weekly basis she and her sister showed movies at nursing homes to help patients get out of their rooms.

Family, as well as her faith, are of primary importance to Marsha. Trips to the library with her children, and later her grandchildren, were always important. She was active in the Child Conservation League which focuses on parenting skills and family activities. Extremely patient, she taught her 1-year-old granddaughter sign language to make it easier for her to express her needs.

Marsha has had her share of personal crises, but she has always believed that she will survive with the help of family, friends and God. In March 2006, her husband Mike Mills died suddenly while Marsha was visiting her son and his family out of state. His unexpected loss saddened her, but she continued to watch her grandchildren, knowing that their closeness would bring her joy.

It is a credit to her character that among her strongest supporters in her fight to win freedom are her ex-husband and his wife, who believe in her innocence.

Always upbeat, Marsha exudes positive energy which she relays to her friends and those in need. When a friend had a stroke, it was Marsha who took him to the hospital and later helped him run errands or get groceries. She enjoyed caring for a friend's elderly mother who has Alzheimer's, keeping her company and listening to stories.

A cancer survivor whose mother died of cancer, Marsha helped with Relay for Life fundraisers for the American Cancer Society. While her mother was ill, Marsha, her father and sister volunteered as caterers for a recognition dinner for Hospice of Tuscarawas County, which was attended by about 500 people. Before her trial, a good friend's daughter passed away suddenly, and Marsha comforted her friend despite her own emotional trauma. That friend reciprocated by attending every day of Marsha's trial.

Despite her incarceration, Marsha routinely says she feels blessed because of her large support group. At a fundraiser last fall, more than 600 supporters attended or made donations. A small sign in her cell states "No complaining." Conversely, those of us who know Marsha also feel blessed. Bringing us together is Marsha's gift to us, Team Marsha. Through Marsha, relatives and strangers have become friends, and friends have become family.

We won't rest until she is freed and her priceless smile and boundless spirit return.