Millicent Laing Van Ness

Thanks for reading Chatham County’s leading news source! Making high quality community journalism isn’t free — please consider supporting our journalism by subscribing to the News + Record today.

Unlimited Digital Access begins at $4.67/month

Print + Digital begins at $6.58/month


Millicent Laing Van Ness, 71, died at home with her husband by her side on August 3, 2022, after a long illness with Alzheimer’s disease. Born to the late Stuart W. and Millicent E. (Philp) Dawson of New Jersey, she was affectionately known as Millie. She was predeceased by her brother Kenneth R. Dawson.

Millie is survived by her husband of over 47 years, David E. Van Ness, her daughter Laura F. (Dustin) O’Neil, her son Peter D. Van Ness, and her grandson, Reed A. O’Neil.

Millie graduated from Albright College with a B.S. in Biology. She played field hockey through middle school, high school, and college. While at Albright, Millie was a fierce advocate for women’s rights and a member of Phi Beta Mu Sorority. She earned a Medical Technologist certification through ASCP (American Society of Clinical Pathologists) at Morristown (N.J.) Memorial Hospital School of Medical Technology.

Millie proudly spent a long career as a Medical Technologist and a Clinical Research Coordinator. For over 40 years she worked in hospitals, labs and research centers around the world. Her creative talent shined in the many clothes and Halloween costumes she sewed for her kids.

Millie enjoyed talking about her passions — history, cinema, and genealogy. She had a deep love for the many pugs she called pets. She raised her kids to love spending time outdoors, camping and exploring states along the East Coast.

A lifelong Girl Scout, Millie graciously served as a troop leader for 12 years. She was also an active member in the Presbyterian and United Methodist Churches throughout her life. She and Dave are members of the Pittsboro United Methodist Church where she enjoyed singing in the choir and participating in Bible Study. Millie had an energetic spirit, generous nature, and a hunger for knowledge. Her family and friends will greatly miss her loving presence.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 17, 2022, at Pittsboro United Methodist Church–Family Life Center, with the Rev. Lucas Nelson presiding. Memorial contributions can be made in Millie’s honor to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5171 Glenwood Ave. #101, Raleigh, N.C. 27612 or to the Pittsboro U.M.C., 71 West St.. Pittsboro, N.C. 27312.

Donaldson Funeral Home & Crematory is serving the Van Ness family.

Visit to leave memorial tributes for the family.