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Coolfont chef is honored for 30 years of service at resort

November 11, 2002

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - More than 100 Coolfont Resort employees gathered recently to salute June Mills for 30 years of service.

Surrounded by family and extended family members - 13 of them, including four generations have worked at Coolfont - June was given a plaque, round-trip plane ticket to visit her sister in Colorado and a mounted copy of an article in Shape magazine featuring her photo, spa recipes and anecdotes of her life in the Coolfont kitchen, according to a company press release.

Mills' parents, Charles and Lillian Salmon, were the first Coolfont employees, serving as caretakers of the property beginning in 1961 when Sam Ashelman bought the initial 800 acres including the Manor House. Mills' husband, Clarence, came next, heading up its maintenance department.

In 1973 June began pan-frying fresh trout and homemade crab cakes as a front line, a l carte cook, a post she held for 261/2 years.


For 14 years before that she had cooked at Cacapon State Park.

"Sam Ashelman would come there every morning, have coffee and a doughnut and try to talk me into coming to work with my husband at Coolfont," she said. "On my days off he would ask me to come and help cook for some bus tours. Finally, I gave in."

"We didn't have too much to work with, but them was the good old days," she said. "We had fun and worked as a family.

"I didn't just cook. I hung wallpaper and worked on banisters in the Manor House," Mills said.

"Sam was always good to me. He made sure our family had health insurance, and made sure we were all taken care of when my husband died," she said.

When Coolfont's spa was created, Mills became its chef, preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner.

According to the Shape Magazine article, "A self-described 'country cook' whose specialties were porterhouse steak and baked potatoes swimming in butter, Mills wasn't an overnight convert to spa cuisine.

" 'It took me a while to get used to spa cuisine,' says Mills. 'I remember cooking Dijon mustard chicken with yogurt for the spa and thinking that I could never eat that!'

"In fact," the magazine said," she didn't dine on her own spa dishes until after her husband had a heart attack; she then decided to serve low-fat fare at home. "After a few months of spa cuisine, they both felt better. The nurses caring for her husband were so impressed with her low-fat dishes that they borrowed her recipes.

" 'They later wrote to tell me how much weight they had lost,' says Mills."

Coolfont published a cookbook featuring Mills' favorite recipes. The cookbook will be revised and republished, said Coolfont Public Relations Director Mara Ashelman. For most of her final four years, Mills switched gears and became the Coolfont baker, preparing pies, cakes, cobblers, tortes, tarts, biscuits, cookies, breads and pastries.

"I very much appreciate all the things June has done for me and Coolfont over the years," Ashelman said.

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