Friends ride to remember Wayne Mills

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Gary “Sarge” Sargeant, owner of Hawg Engineering and one of the late Wayne Mills’ closest friends, hosts the ride each year and donates the proceeds to Mills’ son Jack’s education fund. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – On what would have been Wayne Mills’ 50th birthday, Hawg Engineering hosted the second annual Wayne Mills Memorial Ride Saturday to remember their friend and popular musician. Gary “Sarge” Sargeant, owner of Hawg Engineering and one of Mills’ closest friends, hosts the ride each year and donates the proceeds to Mills’ son Jack’s education fund.

Mills was a native of Arab, Alabama and played baseball for Wallace State before transferring to the University of Alabama where he earned a degree in education. An outstanding athlete, Mills also played football at the University of Alabama under Gene Stallings.

Mills’ passion was music and he found success with the Wayne Mills Band. The band toured with Blake Shelton and Jamey Johnson and released five studio albums and two live albums including hit songs “The Last Honky Tonk” and “One of These Days.”

In Nov. 2013, Mills was shot and killed as he was walking out of a bar in Nashville. News of the popular singer’s murder devastated his family, friends and fans including his wife and then 7-year-old son Jack. In March 2015, Chris Ferrell was convicted of second-degree murder for shooting Mills in the back of the head and in 2019 a Tennessee appeals court upheld his 20-year sentence.

Sarge, who delivered Mills’ eulogy, will continue to honor his friend each year on his birthday and vows to help his friend’s family in any way possible.

“People were drawn to Wayne. He was talented and people love his music, but it’s the size of his heart that made him special. I miss him. Today would have been his 50th birthday, so we will ride to Arab and visit his grave to pay our respects to our fallen brother.”

Several musicians performed at Hawg Engineering Saturday evening after the ride to honor Mills. American Idol alumnus Brandon Elder, Joe Pritchard and Kara Clark traveled from Nashville for a night of great music and remembrance of a friend gone far too soon.

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Wayne Mills (Courtesy of Facebook)
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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com