Former state education commissioner, 72, dies while hiking in Adirondacks

Richard P. “Rick” Mills, the state’s former education commissioner, died on Nov. 1 after suffering an apparent heart attack while hiking in the Adirondacks with a friend, his wife Judy told the Daily Gazette.

Mills, 73, of Clifton Park, N.Y., was on the Puffer Pond Trail in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area in Warren County when the incident occurred.

He was state education commissioner from 1995 to 2009. He led “the push to make the Regents exams the closest thing New York has seen to a universal high school exit exam. He was also commissioner as the charter school movement, which was approved by the Legislature and Gov. George Pataki, got underway in New Yori,” the Albany Times Union reported.

The DEC gave the following account of the incident that led to his death:

“At 5 p.m. on Nov. 1, a radio call came in from the DEC trail crew working on the East Sacandaga Trail. The crew had been notified that a man … was having a possible cardiac arrest on the Puffer Pond Trail in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area. Due to inclement weather, helicopter support was not available. Six Forest Rangers, two trail crew members, and the Indian Lake Fire Department responded to the scene for a carry-out of the ill hiker.

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