Visitation will be held at 2:00pm, January 4th, 2020, at the Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home. A funeral Mass and burial will be scheduled at a later date and will be held at the Fort Myer Old Post Chapel and Arlington National Cemetery.
He is survived by his two daughters, Catherine Victoria (Mitchell) Cooney, Henderson, NV, married to Sean Daniel Cooney; and Lauren Elizabeth (Mitchell) Richardson, Richmond, VA, married to James Ryan Richardson. Three grandchildren who were his world, Mitchell Atticus Richardson, Amelia Jordan Cooney and Finley Rose Cooney.
He was preceded in death by his loving wife, Geraldine Marie (Meaney) Mitchell. They celebrated life together for 34 years, followed by 7 years of “Geri Moments,” reflecting on the wonderful life they created together.
Mitch graced us with his presence on September 2, 1944, in Potosi, Missouri born to Calvin George Mitchell and Ruby Irene Lackey. Mitch grew up on the family farm in Buffalo, MO. Missouri always held a special place in his heart. Anytime he spoke of it, his eyes lit up remembering the special people there; his cousins Jack Neil and Danna Hartley. They were like siblings to him. A significant portion of Mitch’s life took place in Missouri. Later in life, he would enjoy bringing his family there for holidays with his cousins, aunts and uncles. Missouri is where he taught his family about good conversation, conflict resolution and playing Tripoly against the best of them. At the age of 8, he moved to Alexandria, VA.
After graduating from Francis C. Hammond High School, Alexandria, VA in 1962. Mitch continued his education at Drury College, Springfield, MO, joining the Sigma Nu fraternity and earning a Bachelor degree in Political Science in 1966.
After graduating from Drury, Mitch joined The Air National Guard, enlisting as an aircraft maintainer and later completing pilot training. He flew F-100s, F-105s and F-4s. He was activated for the Pueblo Crisis and deployed to Europe for NATO exercises and Nevada for Red Flag exercises. Some of his favorite memories were recalling those experiences.
His Air National Guard friends described him as a steady hand and reliable pilot. He had a mind for detail, accuracy and recall. There weren’t any surprises when other pilots flew with him, he was competitive, methodical, and responsive. He was well-respected and highly regarded as a flight lead. When he retired he was the Operations Officer for the 121st Tactical Fighter Squadron (121 FS).
Still maintaining his National Guard responsibilities, Mitch worked at Educational Testing Service, developing test questions and designing assessments. After that, he worked at U.S. News & World Report as a Personnel Administrator for 10 years. He resigned from that position and opened his own computer company, Summer Solutions in 1983. Mitch and Geri worked side by side building the business on King Street, in Old Town. Later, he would move over to F-D-C Reports, Inc. where he worked in publishing.
Cate and Lauren describe Mitch as Mr. Mom. While the love of his life traveled for work, he kept the house running. Caravaning the girls to soccer and basketball games, ironing pleats in their uniforms and teaching them the art of staying out of trouble. Any time the girls asked to go to the drugstore, he swiped the credit card without any questions. He enjoyed cooking, trying new recipes and sharing those recipes with them. He was supportive, loving, memorable and always appreciated a good party.
His neighbors would describe him as the watcher of the block. His daily viewings from his porch let all know he was there, seeing all on Summers Drive. He was always ready to discuss anything and everything. He especially enjoyed critiquing Alexandria City when they were “fixing” something. Everyone who was out for a walk with or without their dog knew they could stop by for a chat. He was a joy to have as a neighbor and he always had a story to share.
All describe him as ready to host. There were numerous parties at Summers Drive, too many to count. Geri would circulate the party, making sure everyone was comfortable and Mitch would maintain the kitchen. He always stood in the same spot during any Mitchell family party. There was predictability about Mitch, just not about what he would say … but it was informative and entertaining.
The family would spend weekends at the beach house growing up. Avoiding sand in his nooks and crannies, Mitch would operate the pool, while Geri, Cate and Lauren went to the beach. In the evenings, they would play Aggravation and Skip-Bo. He enforced rules, and often would say, “if you laid it, you played it.” Every weekend there was a dinner party being hosted with sinfully good conversation and tall tales.
Mitch had a wonderful life, blessed with a vivacious wife and two loving daughters. His Missouri family was never far from his mind and he made friends at every stage of his long and interesting life. He could always be counted on for good advice and an irrepressible laugh. We invite everyone to celebrate his legacy, his booming voice and toast Mitch goodbye the way he would want us to.
Flowers are welcomed or memorial contributions may be made in Mitch’s honor to the Fisher House Foundation or Wreaths Across America (link coming).
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