Donald Alan Mitchell passed peacefully at home, surrounded by his loving family, on June 6, 2021. This was after a long, hard-fought battle with rectal colon cancer. He was also known to his friends and family as Don, Donnie, and Mitch.
He was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont to his parents, Robert and Eileen Mitchell (Davis). His family lived in several different states throughout his life and spent several years in Germany where his father, served in the United States Army as a Sergeant First Class. In 1972 the family moved to Jamestown New York where they resided until 1978.
In high school, Don was very active in theater and numerous student organizations. He was also on the Jamestown high school wrestling team. After high school, Don enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1977 and served until 1986. During his time with the Air Force, he was stationed in Germany, England, and Okinawa. He served his country proudly and faithfully. He also played for a minor league baseball team while stationed in Germany. He was a Boston Red Socks fan and always dreamed of going to Fenway Park.
After his service, he attended and graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in Kinesiology. During his college years, he was introduced to the art of Judo by walking into a demo class held by his now dear friend and Sensai Kim Messa. From that point on Judo became his philosophy. He was promoted to 1st black belt and then received his 2nd black belt. As a result of his love of Judo, he went on to teach his own classes at the Corsicana YMCA and then at the Greenville YMCA. He believed Judo taught discipline and is “the gentle way”. He also competed in Judo tournaments throughout Texas and other states.
Mitch was a natural coach. Throughout his adult career, he coached soccer, baseball, and was a baseball and soccer referee for Kerrville Youth. He was on many athletic boards and showed his love for kids to all his teams. He was a great mentor to many.
In 1993, he met his beloved wife Marilyn. They raised four children, Amy, Jonathan, Bradley, and Ethan. Don's family meant everything to him and they will all miss him dearly. His passing leaves a huge void in the lives of many, including his family, siblings, and loved ones.
Mitch worked for the YMCA starting at Camp Carter in 1989 then accepted a position as Program Director at the Corsicana, TX YMCA, where he made some lifelong friends and has shared many wonderful memories. He then took the position of Executive Director at the Greenville YMCA. After being lured to the Hill Country by its beauty and kind folks, he took the position of Executive Director of the Kerrville YMCA. He left the Kerrville YMCA in 2003 to pursue a teaching career. He received his Masters of Education from Schreiner University. He worked for several districts including Kerrville ISD, Big Springs Charter School, Boerne ISD, Uvalde CISD, and Finished his teaching career at Bella Romero in Greely, Colorado.
Don had a wonderful sense of humor and loved music, especially Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind”. He devoted much of his energy to making sure that his children obtained a solid education. Learning and knowledge were paramount with Don and Marilyn and they sacrificed much to ensure that all of their children obtained excellent educations. Don and Marilyn's work ethics and values are clearly evident in their children's successes.
Don was a compassionate man who cared deeply about others. He was passionate about protecting the environment. One of his favorite statements was that we must all be "good stewards". He was also very practical and pragmatic and one of his favorite quotes was from Stephen Crane - A man said to the universe “Sir, I exist!”. “However”, replied the universe, “that fact does not create within me a sense of obligation”.
One of Don's joys during the past several years was going camping with a group of guys who called themselves "the he-men". They traveled to several places throughout New York and Pennsylvania and he will be deeply missed. A glass will be raised in his honor at this year's gathering.
Don was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Eileen. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn Beth Keller Mitchell, his children, Amy (Tristan) Chitwood his beloved granddaughter Hailey Chitwood, Jonathan Pratt, Bradley (Laurah) Mitchell, and Ethan Mitchell, his siblings, Ronald (Marcie) Mitchell, Bobbi Mitchell, and Daniel Mitchell as well as many nieces, nephews, loved ones and countless friends along with his companion dog Cookie.
He is also survived by his lifelong friend and “brother” Daniel Gullotti, who kept him laughing and going throughout this journey.
A special thank you to his loving sister, Bobbi, who came to live with Don and Marilyn and provided care and comfort to Don during his final weeks.
Additionally, many thanks to the Peterson Hospice for the love and care.
His wish is that all men get a colonoscopy by age 45!
A Celebration of his life will be held on June 19, 2021, in Kerrville Texas at “The Open Cross in Kerrville”. (wwwthecrossatkerrville.org) 520 Benson Dr. Kerrville, TX 78028 at 1:00 in the amphitheater. All are welcome and casual attire. A military funeral will take place on August 3, 2021, promptly at 10:00 at the DFW/Fort Worth Arlington National Cemetery, Texas. Donations may be made to a charity of one's choice and, if appropriate, to an educational charity or organization.
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