In Memory of Thomas Lowell Mitchell

February 8, 1932 - December 5, 2018

Thomas L. Mitchell, 86, Stone Lake, died peacefully on December 5 at Spooner Health, after living with congestive heart failure for more than 20 years. 

Tom was born February 8, 1932 in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Rev. Lowell R. and Valra (Dodds) Mitchell. Tom had six siblings: Genevieve, Ethel, Charles, Paul, John and James.

When Tom was 2 his parents moved to Racine, Wisconsin, where he lived for the next 57 years. His father pastored Bethel Tabernacle, a United Pentecostal Church. When speaking of their childhoods, Tom and his siblings recalled adventures similar to those of the Little Rascals. One of Tom’s favorites involved a taxidermy kit, a few squirrels and finally the neighbor’s cat. That’s where Tom’s taxidermy career ended. Tom was always the first to say that being a PK — a preacher’s kid — was never easy.

In 1953, Tom met Shirley Kowalski at a party. He had arrived with his current girlfriend, but he knew there was something special about Shirl. They were married in April 1954 and remained devoted to one another until her death. They had four sons: Tom, Mike, Tim and Paul. They bought a small but beautifully crafted home on Racine’s Northside, and Tom supported the family as a machinist at Ladish Company in Cudahy where he worked for more than 30 years. Shirley was a stay-at-home mom. The never had a lot of money, but they managed to buy a boat, motor and a pop-up camper, and enjoyed many weekends and vacations camping. Tom loved to take his sons hunting and fishing.

In the late 1970s Tom started a home repair business which he continued the business part-time until his retirement and was a home-maintenance savior to a number of elderly women in Racine. They adored him.

In 1983 Tom and Shirley purchased a 40-acre parcel on Highway 70 between Stone Lake and Spooner where they planned their dream retirement home, a log cabin on the hill. But Tom’s life changed forever in 1985 when he lost Shirley to a combination of cancer and heart disease. She was 47, he was 53.

Life changed again in 1991, however, when Tom retired and moved to a small hobby farm outside Stone Lake. He hung up his machinist’s helmet, put on his overalls and became a farmer. In the early years there were cows, donkeys, pigs, cats, a pony, chickens, geese, ducks, sheep, a goat, and a raucous flock of guinea hens. Eventually he just focused on cattle and making hay.

Tom enjoyed his retirement and farming years and made many dear friends including his next-door neighbor, Avis Thorp. They shared a critical duty for all good, single northwoods neighbors — tick checks. Tom, Avis and their group of friends enjoyed playing cards, usually a version of Rummy 500 played by what are known as “Spooner Rules.”

Tom also shared retirement with loyal dogs, all named for characters on “The Andy Griffith Show.” There was Barney, Thelma Lou, Opie and Thelma Lou (the second).

Tom’s farm was always a favorite spot for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, where they could ride the donkeys, pet the cows, chase the chickens and ride the infamous “3-wheeler” which Tom wisely disabled before anyone got hurt.

Tom was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Shirley; his parents; his stepmother Bernice (Otto) Mitchell; his brothers Paul, Charles and James; and his sister Genevieve.

He is survived by his four sons, Tom (Sandy) of Waterford, Wisconsin, Michael (Kate) of Haugen, Timothy (Katherine) of St. Ignatius, Montana, and Paul (Vaughan Skille) of Hayward; 12 grandchildren, Jennifer (Mike) Mansell of Waterford, Wisconsin, Jamie (Eric) Hinson of Crozet, Virginia, Sarah (Stephen) Miller of Belgrade, Montana, Katie (Doug) Sutich of Bozeman, Montana, Annie (Jeremiah) Morigeau of St. Ignatius, Montana, Joseph Mitchell of Longmont, Colorado, Morgan (Nick) Mitchell of Racine, Emmett Mitchell of La Crosse, Ellen Mitchell of Haugen, Maxwell Mitchell of La Crosse, Madeline Mitchell of Eau Claire, and Alexander Mitchell of La Crosse; daughters-in-law Susan Eschmann and Kathy Mitchell; 14 great grandchildren; sister Ethel Ferkey; brother John Mitchell; sisters-in-law Betty Mitchell, June Anderson, Ruth Mitchell, Sharon Bellomy and Kathy Kowalski; many nieces, nephews and countless friends.

The family wishes to thank the caring staff (especially Marge in the INR clinic) and physicians at Spooner Health who have treated Tom with care, compassion and friendship throughout his years of care there.

Services will be held Wednesday, December 12 at First Lutheran Church of Stone Lake, with a visitation from noon to 1 p.m. and a celebration of Tom’s life at 1 p.m.

Tom will be buried in Racine alongside his wife, Shirley, at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Tom’s favorite charity.

Last Update: Dec 10, 2018 8:18 am CST

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