Communities are built by strong men and women willing to sacrifice their time and talent to assure a better tomorrow. They are leaders who devote their energies to their church and family and who recognize that tomorrow depends on their leadership today. In countless ways, these community builders provide an essential foundation for growth and progress. And when they leave, their passing creates a void that is hard to fill.
Bob Mitchell was such a leader. Mr. Mitchell died Friday morning. Our community has lost a pillar of strength and leadership. More importantly, we've lost a true gentleman.
Bob Mitchell's accomplishments read like a textbook on community activism. He was honored as the Man of the Year and received the Chamber's Lifetime Achievement Award. His 12-year service on the School Board provided a legacy for generations to follow. A 50-year Mason, Mr. Mitchell also helped to form our community's first Little League program.
But a lengthy list of civic success fails to truly capture the character of a man. That was the case with Bob Mitchell. His ready smile, firm handshake and genuine interest in the lives of others were much more important than the plaques on his wall.
The last time I saw Mr. Mitchell, I asked how he was doing. He quickly said he was fine and immediately asked how I was doing. He was more interested in the lives, issues and concerns of others than of his own failing health. But I shouldn't be surprised. Even with declining health, character is not diminished.
In so many ways, Bob Mitchell was the yardstick by which leadership and integrity were measured. You could count on him to do the right thing and to stand by his word. And believe me, others recognized his strength and keen insight. That, after all, is the true mark of leadership.
An obituary provides details of a life. It chronicles the highlights of service. But it misses the important aspects of compassion and devotion and sacrifice. Bob Mitchell spent a lifetime giving his enormous talents and skills to build a better future for our children and to promote the community he loved. By that measure alone, he was a success beyond the imagination.
Man is given but a limited time on this Earth. The importance comes with how we fill those years and how we are remembered by the lives we touch. It's easy to express how Bob Mitchell filled those years. But it's hard to count the lives he touched.
By any definition, our community and our lives are richer because of Bob Mitchell. It's not enough to say he was a good man, an excellent father, a devoted husband, a respected leader. He was more.
Bob Mitchell was a living example of someone willing to take those bold steps needed to succeed in life and to accept the responsibility that goes with leadership. He leaves a legacy that will long be remembered.