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Clifford B. Mitchell

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a true icon of the Humboldt County legal community, a man of many and varied talents and interests, and most of all, a family man who was blessed to spend 58 blissful years married to his college sweetheart, Janice I. Mitchell, passed peacefully on October 15, 2010 at age 83 surrounded by his family. Cliff was born in San Francisco on July 20, 1927. His father Emery moved the family to Humboldt County in the early 40's to pursue his legal career, and Cliff graduated from Eureka High School in 1945, lettering in football, basketball, baseball and tennis. After 2 years in the Navy, he spent two years at Humboldt State and then transferred to Stanford University, from which he obtained his B.A. in English in 1950, and later his law degree in 1953. While at Stanford Law School, he was an Editor of the Law Review alongside two eventual U.S. Supreme Court Justices (Rehnquist and O'Connor). Cliff joined his father in the Mitchell and Henderson law firm in 1953, which eventually became Mitchell, Dedekam and Angell, and now proudly still bears his father's name as Mitchell, Brisso, Delaney and Vrieze. His son William is currently a partner in the firm. He tried well over 100 jury trial cases, was recognized throughout Northern California as one of its very top trial attorneys, and was nominated to numerous national prestigious trial lawyer organizations, including the American College of Trial Lawyers, and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). One of his most significant, published cases was one which resulted in the first ever award of punitive damages against an insurance company in California, in which he represented a local woman who was unfairly denied disability benefits. He met his bride Janice Ide at Stanford while he was at Law School and she an undergrad, and they wed on August 16, 1952. After moving to Eureka, they raised four children, Cliff, William, Shelley and Steve, all graduates of Eureka High. In 1966, they purchased what he called his "little slice of heaven" on the Mad River beyond Kneeland. The family built a cabin to go along with the existing "White House", and four generations of Mitchells, including nephew Forrest Mitchell and his family and niece Millie, thoroughly enjoyed their summers along the mile of private river frontage for more than 40 years (hence the name "Mad Mile Ranch"). In 1989, they built their dream house in the hills of Arcata, nestled amongst the redwoods, and overlooking the Humboldt Bay, were he lived until his death. In the past 5 years, they enjoyed their retreats to the warmth of their condominium in Medford, frequently attending plays in Ashland. Away from home, Cliff and Jan traveled the world, including memorable trips to Greece, Egypt, Russia, France, China, Italy, England, Alaska, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. Just 3 years ago, they summited the ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru. Cliff was a master level chess player, having games published in chess magazines, tournament bridge player, astronomer, fly fisherman (including trips to Alaska, Montana and Christmas Island), competitive golfer and longtime member and past President of Baywood, and among the area's finest tennis players for many years. An avid reader and history buff, he was versed in everything from the Greek and Roman civilizations, the Civil War, World War II, Shakespeare, Robert Burns poems, to Raymond Carver short stories. He stood by his family through thick and thin. His brother Bernon caused an international stir when he left the United States for the Soviet Union in 1960 at the height of the Cold War, and while working as a cryptologist for the National Security Association, but Cliff remained loyal and close to his brother visiting and travelling with him on several occasions. He loved unconditionally his four children, and his daughters-in-law Oxana and Theresa Mitchell, and was immensely proud of his four grandchildren, Scott, Emily, Amy and Jenny Mitchell from Santa Rosa (Scott currently attending UCLA and Emily at Stanford - the fourth generation of Mitchells to attend Stanford). He was pre-deceased by his parents, Emery and Helen Mitchell, and his brothers, Emery, a star athlete at Stanford, and Bernon. Following proceedings at the Humboldt County Courthouse, the family will host a celebration/reception for friends and family at the Ingomar Club at 143 M Street, Eureka on Friday, October 22, 2010 commencing at 1:00 pm, and all are invited to attend. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations in his memory to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation and the Breast Cancer Society. Please sign the guest book at www.Times-Standard.com, click obits.

Published in Eureka Times-Standard from Oct. 19 to Oct. 21, 2010
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