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Thomas W. Mitchell

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SHREWSBURY -- Thomas William Mitchell, 62, died Thursday, April 20, 2006, at his home in Shrewsbury after a 13-month battle with acute myelogenous leukemia.

Tom was born on Sept. 11, 1943, in New York City, to Adelheid Wagner Mitchell and William John Mitchell. He lived also in North Carolina and Virginia, and in 1970 he moved permanently to Shrewsbury, where the family had spent summer vacations for many years.

Tom attended the Lenox School in Lenox, Mass., where he played lacrosse and was captain of the fencing team. From 1961 to 1965, he studied at Dartmouth College. He was editor-in-chief of the literary magazine and graduated with a degree in philosophy.

He served with the Peace Corps in Colombia from 1965 to 1968. While serving, Tom met his first wife, Theresa Motyka, a fellow volunteer, whom he married in 1970.

His life in Shrewsbury was a very full one. Tom was a vital member of the community, participating in many local groups for a variety of social and political causes. He organized many benefits, among them for the victims of the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. He was a captain and safety officer of the Shrewsbury Volunteer Fire Department and in 2005 was named Line Officer of the Year by the Vermont State Firefighters Association. Tom was town constable for 10 years. A lifelong Boy Scout, Tom was a scoutmaster for Troop 8 for 10 years.

Tom was very musical and loved to perform. After leaving the Peace Corps, Tom moved to Wisconsin, where he played with the Solberg Brothers Blues Band.

Once settled in Vermont, he formed the Saltash Serenaders, an eclectic folk ensemble that has played throughout New England. In addition to singing, Tom was a talented musician; his favorite instruments were the guitar, autoharp, recorder and kazoo. He also played in The Muddy Rhodes Blues Band.

A fluent Spanish speaker, Tom loved the music and culture of Latin America.

He led a group of Vermont teenagers to Mexico for the Hayes Foundation. On his final trip abroad in 2005, he was the translator for the Cuban Medical Transport, fulfilling a lifelong dream to visit Cuba.

Tom had an insatiable curiosity about the world around him. He loved learning and spent many years throughout his life as a teacher and tutor. Tom was a talented photographer. He is remembered by many as an incorrigible prankster.

Tom loved Vermont deeply. He worked as an energy conservation specialist, helping people throughout the state to lower their heating and electric bills. Tom was committed to protecting the beauty and integrity of the environment. He was concerned deeply with matters of social justice.

He is survived by his wife, Ann Vanneman; two sons, Christopher Mitchell, 26, and Andrew Mitchell, 25, both of Boston; one daughter, Amanda Pagan, 25, of El Paso, Texas, and son-in-law Anthony Pagan; their mother, his first wife, Theresa Mitchell; his sister, Judith Mitchell of Maine; and his mother, Heidi Mitchell, 98. He will be missed by all who knew him.

The memorial service was held Sunday at the Shrewsbury Community Church and Meeting Hall.

In lieu of flowers, friends may contribute to Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam or The Shrewsbury Community Church Helping Hand Fund, Shrewsbury, VT 05738.
Published in Bennington Banner on Apr. 26, 2006
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