Dr. Alan Mitchell, 1924-2009
In addition to his work as a pediatrician – which saw him caring for some patients well into adulthood, friends and family said – Mitchell helped start Alameda Meals on Wheels, founded a cystic fibrosis clinic at Children’s Hospital in Oakland and was active in Kiwanis. “Mitch,” as he was known to friends, was also an avid golfer and had a wicked sweet tooth.
“Here’s what he used to say: ‘I love California because I always have the option of golfing 365 days a year,'” his daughter in law, Deborah Mitchell, said.
Mitchell was born in Manchester, New Hampshire on December 22, 1924, and grew up in Kennebunkport, Maine, Deborah Mitchell said. He attended Deerfield Academy on a sports scholarship and graduated Williams College before attending medical school at Boston University, where he met his wife of 58 years, Dr. Dorothy Tucker.
Mitchell served in the Navy during World War II and again was called to serve, in the Air Force, for the Korean War. He and Dorothy came to the Bay Area for residencies at two local hospitals (she at the VA in San Francisco, he at Children’s Hospital in Oakland). Mitchell moved to Alameda in 1956 after a local doctor asked him to cover his practice after the doctor was called to serve in the military.
During his career, Mitchell served as the president of the staffs of both Children’s Hospital and Alameda Hospital, which he also served as a board member. Children’s Hospital gave him its Bronze Bambino award in 1978 for his dedication.
Mitchell was also very active in the community, scoring perfect attendance and the presidency of the local Kiwanis Club and serving as Alameda Commuters Historian and a church elder at First Presbyterian Church. His local efforts earned him the title of Grand Marshal of the Alameda Fourth of July Parade, in 1995, and a 2004 Alameda County Community Hero award.
“One of his themes was to give back to your community. And he tried to show us by example,” Mitchell’s son, Alan Jr., said.
Ed Kofman, who worked with Mitchell at Kiwanis and Meals on Wheels, said Mitchell got the idea to start a local Meals on Wheels chapter when he heard about a chapter elsewhere on the radio. Mitchell and a group of other local residents founded the Alameda group in 1973.
Meals on Wheels Director Rosemary Reilly said Mitchell served on the nonprofit’s board and that he and his wife delivered meals every Tuesday. Mitchell also served as a de facto medical adviser when Reilly had a concern about one of the people she was helping, she said.
“He was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. He was well loved by us. We’ll miss him,” she said.
With Kiwanis, Mitchell put together a camp for deaf children and their siblings and was charged with scorekeeping for an annual golf tournament between local Kiwanis and Rotary members, Kofman said. His legendary sweet tooth was a running joke at Kiwanis, Kofman said.
“You’re sad to see him gone, but you’re also happy you got the chance to know him and spend some time with him,” Kofman said.
Mitchell will be missed by many, including his wife, Dorothy; sons Alan Jr., Douglas (Deborah) and George; eight grandchildren; several nieces and nephews, including Sherrie Tucker, Jim Tucker and Brooks Mitchell; cousin Ellen Louise DeWitt; and his brother- and sister-in-law, Ry Tucker and Marilyn Tucker.
Services are at 11 a.m. Saturday, December 5 at First Presbyterian Church, 2001 Santa Clara Avenue. In lieu of flowers, Mitchell’s family is asking people to donate to Alameda Meals on Wheels or the church.