Kenneth E. Mitchell, 91, died September 20, 2018 at his home. Services will be held October 6th at 1:00pm at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence, Kansas.
He was preceded in death by his wife Mary Mitchell and his son Steven Mitchell. He is survived by 3 of his children, Sheri Mull (husband Jim Mull), Michael (wife Carol) and David, 6 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren, and countless others who will always have a special place in their heart for Ken. His younger brother Merle, preceded him in death and his younger sister Doris, lives in Kansas City with her husband, E. K. Stevenson (forever in our family known as “Pete”).
On September 22nd 1926, in Topeka, Kansas, Harry and Helen Mitchell’s first child was born…Hello world, here came Kenneth Eugene Mitchell! His younger days were filled with helping his parents, skinny dipping in ponds, caddying at local golf courses and in general, having a great childhood. But young men grew up early in those days and Dad went to work for the local Lawrence Theatres. Some of us remember the Jayhawk, the Varsity, the Granada, Lawrence Drive-In and The Sunset Drive-in. It was here, he met a fetching young woman, Mary Katherine Barber, who would soon become his wife. He had just turned 18 and she was still 16. Immediately after their vows, he was drafted into the army for World War II. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Dad as he jokingly liked to say, “I ended both Wars”. Just before shipping out to Europe, “VE Day” was pronounced throughout the nation…His orders were then changed and he was to be shipped to the Pacific Theatre, but, just before he would leave San Francisco, the Japanese surrendered. It seems the thought of Dad fighting, terrorized the Axis Powers. Even so, the Army thought it necessary that he still go to the Philippines to stand watch as a Private…just in case the evil-doers changed their minds. Suffice to say, peace in the world was preserved.
Back home, Mary was expecting first child, Sheri, and Dad received a leave to go back to the States for her birth. Afterwards, he was scheduled to go back and fulfill his two-year duty, but the Brass decided since he only had a few months left of duty, he was released of obligation from the Armed Forces.
School, more babies and building a home himself for $8,000.00 were next, as Steve was born in 1948, Mike in ’52 and Dave rounded out the Mitchell crew in 1954. The house, 2001 Mitchell Road, still stands to this day and will host a reception immediately following the October 6th services. The house that Dad built was an open door to all who passed its’ threshold. Come on in, have some food and drink, if you need to stay, there’s room somewhere.
Dad attended the University of Kansas majoring in Engineering. He left early to join KP&L and followed that job with a stint at CFCA that would last until his retirement. During this time, he never missed a game or event that any of his children, grandchildren or great grandchildren participated. No matter what, he was always in the stands.
Although he was married to Mary, golf was his Mistress. Never having a chance to play while raising the family, he was reintroduced to the sand greens that used to be at the southeast corner of 31st Street and Highway 59. 54 holes for $1.50 was the perfect price for a man that knew how to squeeze a buck. As he and we boys moved on to grass greens, he joined Alvamar Golf Club and until just a few months ago, was still playing with his early morning buddies and just last year, even had another hole-in-one! This chapter of his life could be a book, and due to time constraints, we will leave it at that, but I will tell you, his buddies purchased him a hard hat because he was always obnoxiously way out front while they were hitting their shots. Yelling at him made no difference because…he couldn’t hear them anyway.
Was he a good husband? Yes! Although he had little interest in Mom’s antiquing, he would drive her to numerous shops, estate sales and anywhere she felt she needed to observe. When she became ill, he became her caretaker…she wanted to be at home, and he made that happen. She passed in 2007 and there have been few days since that time, that he hadn’t wanted to join her.
After Mom’s death, Dad was happiest when many people were around. He might have just packed it in earlier if not for meeting the second love of his life, Margaret Merrion, who stole his heart and gave him a new reason to stick around. Margaret was a fantastic friend whose family adopted Dad, and we as his family are forever in their debt. Many great stories here, but again, we must move on.
At any time during this narrative, we could have just talked about Dad’s love of dogs and cats, and really, all animals. He would faithfully walk the dogs morning and night and of course, his love of them was reciprocated because as we all know…animals can tell the really good ones.
Finally, the guy who did so much for others, needed someone to watch over him. Stacy Mitchell and her significant other, Johnny Stokes, moved in to watch his diet, his meds and his overall care. Thanks, from all of us, doesn’t begin to express our gratitude.
In conclusion, there may be some who are equal, but no one is more qualified to carryout God’s work from above, than Dad…After all, he’d been doing God’s work here on Earth for almost 92 years. So, if I may be so bold as to speak for all of us…”Love you Dad!”