John Harrison "Jack" Mitchell of Rancho Bernardo, composer of such songs as "Rancho Bernardo High" and renowned for his trumpet gigs and MC roles at countless community events and gatherings, died on Wednesday, March 14, 2012, from myelodysplasia and complications from a fall after the death of Harriet Leighton Mitchell, Jack's beloved wife of 64 years, on August 10, 2011. |
Jack was born July 8, 1918, in South Easton, Massachusetts, as one of two children of Horace and Mary Mitchell. Working part-time in the Mitchell family general store, Jack attended the public schools in Easton and took up the trumpet and other musical instruments in high school. Jack worked his way through the University of New Hampshire by leading a jazz band and playing at numerous nightclubs and private parties throughout New England. After graduating in 1941 with a major in biology and a minor in music education, Jack served with the Special Services of the Army Air Corps at Peterson Army Air Field in Colorado Springs, and then taught music, science, and photography at Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire, Moses Brown School in Rhode Island, Horace Mann School for Boys in New York City, and Scarsdale High School. Jack met Harriet in 1946 while both were camp counselors in Bridgton, Maine; they were married in June 1947.
While teaching by day, Jack completed a M.Ed. at Columbia University at night, and then worked with The Ford Foundation to develop the Advanced Placement (AP) Program for the nation's high schools. Jack went on to serve as Headmaster of Fryeburg Academy in Maine in 1955, North Yarmouth Academy in Maine in 1958, and The Prairie School in Racine, Wisconsin, in 1965, where he became enamored with the life and work of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, whose firm designed the school facilities. After retiring from Prairie in 1978, Jack worked for S.C. Johnson in corporate giving and executive management training.
Jack and Harriet moved to Rancho Bernardo in 1985. Jack was actively involved in the Rancho Bernardo Rotary Club, Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church, Symphony on the Green, Rancho Bernardo Community Foundation, and other activities. Jack and his late wife, Harriet, are survived by son, David and daughter-in-law, Judy Bradley Mitchell of Del Mar, California; and son, Stephen and daughter-in-law, Teresa Lapsley Mitchell; and grandchildren, Kavi and Neela of Winthrop, Washington. A third son, Bruce, died in 2007.
Gifts in Jack Mitchell's memory may be made to: Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church, 17010 Pomerado Road, San Diego, CA 92128; The Rotary Foundation PolioPlus Fund at www.rotary.org; Rancho Bernardo Historical Society, P.O. Box 27314, San Diego, CA 92198-7314; The Prairie School, 4050 Lighthouse Drive, Racine, WI 53402; or North Yarmouth Academy, 148 Main Street, Yarmouth ME 04096.
A Memorial Service celebrating Jack and Harriet's lives will be held on Saturday, May 5, 2012, at 10 a.m. at the Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church. Arrangements are by Alhiser-Comer Mortuary.
Published in the Pomerado News on Mar. 29, 2012