SIMSBURY >> Walter I. Mitchell of West Simsbury, Vero Beach, Florida, and West Hill Pond, New Hartford, died on Sunday, Sept. 15, at McLean Home in Simsbury.
He had recently celebrated his 93rd birthday with family and friends.
Walter was the retired President and CEO of The Mitchell Auto Group of Simsbury, Canton and Torrington. He belonged to the American Legion, Historical Society and many local organizations.
He was the husband of Mary Pringle Mitchell and the father of three sons, Mark and wife Amie of Bloomfield, Robert of Weatogue and Steven and wife Susan of West Simsbury. He also was the proud grandfather of six grandchildren, Jill, Daniel, René, Justin, Heather and Ashley. He is also survived by his niece, Annette Mitchell Jewell and family of Janesville, Wisconsin and nephew Dennis Mitchell and family. He was predeceased by his parents Mr. and Mrs. Ira Mitchell and brother Lewis of Metcalf, Illinois and Wayne of Tiffany, Wisconsin. Walter was born on Sept. 7, 1920 on a farm in Metcalf, Ilinois. He always lived by his mid western values in his personal and business life. He served his country in the U.S. Navy
during WW II as an Aviation Metal Smith and he was stationed on the USS Enterprise. When the war was over, the Enterprise and all the other ships came back to New York harbor to celebrate Navy Day. It was on that day that he met his future wife Mary, and they recently celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary. He eventually moved to Simsbury and worked for Pratt and Whitney Aircraft. He received his degree in business from Hillyer College Night Division in 1952. Upon the passing of Mary's dad, Robert Pringle, President of Weatogue Garage, he and Mary took on the task of carrying on the family business during very difficult times. The business was started in an old cow barn in 1922 and is now known as the Mitchell Auto Group in Simsbury, Canton and Torrington. He was one of the first dealers in USA to obtain the Franchises for Volvo and Saab in 1960. He was the oldest Subaru Dealer in the U.S still owned and operated by the original dealer. Walter was a firm believer in treating the customer as you would like to be treated and Walter was a true pioneer in the Auto Industry. He was known by his family and friends as the Grill Master. He loved cookouts and insisted upon using a charcoal cooker and bragged that he never cooked on a gas grill. Walter was a member of the National Auto Dealers Association and the Hartford and CT auto dealers associations. In 2009 he was the Honorary Chairman of the McLean Hospice Golf tournament and received a proclamation from Governor Rell and First Selectman of Simsbury, Mary Glassman. Walter was a charter member of the Hopmeadow Country Club. He loved golf and was an avid basketball fan. In his younger years he was a champion at ping pong and would challenge anyone to a game. He loved to watch the Sunsets at West Hill Pond with his faithful dog Jasper, and enjoyed his trips around the lake in his Wee Bonnie Boat. He and Mary spent many happy winters in Vero Beach, FL. Walter loved to tour the highways and byways in his 1969 Pontiac convertible. He also enjoyed riding in it in the Simsbury Memorial Day Parades. He became quite the philosopher and historian in his later years through listening to CD's from the Simsbury Library. The family would like to thank the nursing staff at McLean home for their wonderful and compassionate care.
Visiting hours will be held at the Vincent Funeral Home, 880 Hopmeadow Street in Simsbury on Thursday, Sept. 19 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.. Funeral service will be Friday, Sept. 20, 11 a.m. at the Simsbury United Methodist Church, 799 Hopmeadow Street in Simsbury. Burial with military honors will follow in Simsbury Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the McLean Hospice Fund, 75 Great Pond Road, Simsbury, CT 06070. Please visit Mr. Mitchell's "Book of Memories" at www.vincentfuneralhome.com
for online condolences.