Meet Milly: One of the Oldest Living Girl Scouts in the Nation
by Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee
Born in 1909, Mildred (Milly) Lawson Ellis has been alive longer than Girl Scouts has been around.
As a child in Maryville, Missouri, Milly remembers first hearing about Girl Scouts and Juliette Gordon Low through an article in her local paper.
In 1923, Milly’s parents drove her in their Ford Model T (one of the first in the town) from their home in Missouri to Georgia so that she could meet Juliette and learn more about Girl Scouts. They asked around Savannah until they found themselves speaking with Juliette herself. She happily entertained Milly and her family and spoke to them about Girl Scouts and Savannah and even gave tips on the best places to sightsee in town.
Upon returning home, Milly sent a letter to Girl Scout Headquarters and applied for a Lone Troop packet. Without knowing her age, headquarters sent Milly back a kit and at age 14 Milly became a troop leader to five younger girls from her neighborhood.
That first year, Milly taught the girls what she knew, as she didn’t have any training.
“I don’t know that I was the best leader, but I wanted to teach those little girls the things I had learned. They just loved it – we had the best time!”
She kept her troop going until she went to college, but still participated on breaks and holiday.
After college and marriage, Milly returned to Girl Scouts as an active volunteer, helping with troops and serving on committees in Memphis, Mobile, and Atlanta. Her 1949 move to Tullahoma, TN with her husband and son proved pivotal: while attending a Girl Scout meeting in Shelbyville, TN Milly was elected Regional Chair and placed on the Girl Scout National Board of Directors, where she served from 1956 to 1969. In this position, she visited locations around the country on Girl Scout business working with high-level volunteers and staff on the “Green Umbrella” project, where she helped consolidate smaller councils to better serve the girls.
In Middle Tennessee, she was involved with establishing Camp Sycamore Hills in Ashland City, TN and the former Camp Tannassie near Tullahoma, TN.
Though awarded the Thanks Badge for her outstanding efforts, Milly says she never thought of what she did as work.
At the age of 104, Milly continues to live by the Girl Scout Law. She is active in the Girl Scout community in her hometown of Tullahoma, TN and you can often find her talking about her Girl Scout experiences.