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A Mills River founder, Pryor stays busy

Lois Pryor Lois Pryor

MILLS RIVER — When a small group of folks in the Mills River community decided to become a town, Lois Pryor joined the effort.

"The first thing we did was try to draw up some boundaries and then we went around to every household in Mills River that was a registered voter and asked them if they would like to be incorporated," she said. "I think it was 1,800. We had to work."
The town incorporated in 2003, and since then Pryor has been at every meeting and participated in decisions to buy 50 acres, build the Town Hall, add a branch library, develop the town the park and recruit Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
"I've thoroughly enjoyed it. I sure have," she said. "It's been a good experience. I've never been involved in anything political but I've learned a lot."
Of course, politics Mills River-style is nothing like the hostile wars of Washington. Council members generally agree on priorities and policies. Mayor Roger Snyder makes sure that everyone has a say. Pryor worked hard to bring the library to Mills River, and she is a founding leader of the Parks and Recreation Foundation, which is trying to raise money for softball fields.
"Lois and her husband Bennie (who has passed away) were a real contributing asset to the incorporation committee," Mayor Snyder said. "She did jobs that everybody else kind of shied away from. She got petitions signed. She was down at the Food Lion helping to gather signatures from residents down there. She was very instrumental in dealing with Fletcher. She was probably the most valuable asset that the incorporation committee had."
"Lois has been the vice mayor from Day 1," Snyder added. "She did an excellent job in that role. She was kind of unofficially in charge of the office there at Town Hall. She had her hand in everything and everything she touched she followed it through and she did not care who she had to get involved to make it happen."
Her volunteer work doesn't end with town business.
She helped start a food pantry at Calvary Episcopal Church in Fletcher.
"I work in that all the time," she said. "It's a lot of work. I'm also a leader on the altar guild, I volunteer at the office and I'm one of the people who delivers flowers to hospitals and shut-ins."
She decided not to run for re-election after 13 years on the incorporation committee and then the town board.
"I think it's good to have some new blood in there," she said. "The other thing is I need to have some Lois time. I said when I retired I was going to do volunteer work but I never dreamed I would do this much."
Still, no one who knows Pryor truly believes that "Lois time" will stop her from devoting time for the needy or raising money for the park or helping the library.
"I've called her at 7 in the morning to ask her something," Snyder said, "and I'll say, 'Lois, are you still in your pajamas?' And she'll say, 'I'm done up, dressed and I've walked up to the mailbox and back.' Lois is a truly exceptional person."