Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Walter Mitchell, church stalwart

Was longtime county employee

By Nicole Hamilton
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WYOMING - In 1997, Walter Mitchell was honored by the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio as an inductee into the Society of Saint Simeon and Saint Anna for his devotion to the church.

"He was a model in spirituality in both talk and walk," said his daughter, Louise "Tweedle" Mitchell Lawrence of Sharonville. "There was no greater love for him than his family and his life with his church, St. Andrew's."

Walter Robert Mitchell died June 2 at Manor Care at Woodridge, an assisted-living center in Fairfield, after a short illness.

The Wyoming resident was 87.

"He was a role model, and was very proud of his family. He supported us through everything, from career to personal to relationships," said his granddaughter, Dawn Delight Crook of Forest Park.

"In the entire time I knew him, I never heard him say an unkind word or raise his voice. He just was filled with love," said his son-in-law, Marvin Lawrence of Sharonville.

He was born in Greensboro, N.C., in 1916.

The Mitchell family moved to downtown Cincinnati when he was 5.

After attending Walnut Hills High School, he continued his education at Nashville's Fisk University, in 1932, where he met his future wife, Eva Catherine Clark.

Mr. Mitchell, often called "Babe," transferred to Wilberforce University after about a year, earned his bachelor's degree a few years later, and then moved back to Cincinnati, where he began working as assistant director of the Ninth Street Boys Club.

He served as a field director for the American Red Cross, stationed in Hollandea, New Guinea, during World War II.

When he returned after the war, he worked as assistant director of the Mayor's Friendly Relations Commission.

He then accepted a position with the Hamilton County Welfare Department, where he served as an administrator for 39 years.

Mr. Mitchell retired at the age of 65.

From his childhood through adulthood, Mr. Mitchell was known for his ability to sing.

As a child growing up in a time of segregation, he was not permitted to sing with the school choir, but was allowed to perform as a soloist.

He became known as "Cincinnati Boy Soprano" on WLW radio

As an adult, the members of the St. Andrew's parish would call on him to perform at weddings and funerals.

Mr. Mitchell was active in the Men's Club, Vestry, and Chancel Choir of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church.

He was past treasurer of the board of the Lincoln Courts Day Care Center, and was a member of the board for the Seven Hills Neighborhood House.

Mr. Mitchell was also a member of the NAACP, Wilberforce Alumni Association, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the Argus Club.

His wife and a son, Walter, preceded him in death.

Along with his daughter and granddaughter, survivors include another grandchild and two great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 6 to 7 p.m. today at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 1809 Rutland Ave., Evanston.

A memorial service will follow at 7 p.m.

Mr. Mitchell donated his body to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

Memorials can be made to St. Andrew's Organ Fund Committee, 1809 Rutland Ave., Cincinnati, 45207.

E-mail nhamilton@enquirer.com

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