Not much is known of Mildred “Millie” Lyle Dearing’s personal life, but her contribution to the arts in Athens is well documented through her involvement with the Athens Art Association, primarily in the late 1950s onward and her work with the Georgia Museum of Art. Dearing was born in North Carolina in 1906 as the daughter of A.L. and Mary Dearing. After the death of her father, she moved to Athens.
Upon her move to Athens, Dearing became the secretary to Alfred Heber Holbrook, the founder of the Georgia Museum of Art on the University of Georgia campus in 1945. Newspaper articles describing subsequent renovations show Dearing and Holbrook hanging images together. Dearing also served as secretary of Bill Paul, the next director of the Georgia Museum of Art and professor emeritus of Art at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia. Dearing worked on her own art too. According to the collection, Dearing showed her oil paintings at Athens Art Association art shows throughout the late 1950s and beyond. She was an apprentice to artist, and founder of the Athens Art Association, Laura Blackshear. Dearing is also listed among the Johnson Collection’s online list of Southern women artists and some of her pieces are thus located in the collection.
Dearing died in 1995 and is buried in Oconee Hill Cemetery. Her work has been posthumously displayed at Athens Art Association retrospective events, including “A Century of Art” at the Lyndon House in 2019.