Byron Mitchell

2 entries
  • "Julie & Joe, sending our love and prayers."
    - Debora & Troy Thomas
  • "To Mary, Julie, Jody, and all of Mitch's family, I want you..."
    - Carolyn Martinez
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Mitchell, Byron James

Byron James Mitchell, 90, passed away at home on July 1, 2017. He was born on June 11, 1927, in Erie, North Dakota, to George and Lillian Mitchell. He was the eldest son of six children (Lura, Lorene, Letha, Eldon, and Daniel) and grew up on a farm just outside of Erie. The family survived many hardships, but always found a way to pull through. His parents were devout Christians who lived by faith knowing that God would see them through all circumstances. In the mid-1930s, during the Great Depression, his father, George, contracted tuberculosis and was sent to the state TB sanitarium, along with the whole family. Given 30 days to live, George ultimately overcame the disease and the family, although drained of resources, remained intact. Years later, when Byron was in high school, his dad caught his hand in a corn picker and was unable to work. To keep the farm operating, Byron stayed home from school a full year to do the farm work while his father's hand and arm healed. Although farm life could be very rewarding at times, it was a tough way to make a living. Byron began to notice that the family was always in debt and at the mercy of the weatherâ€"and those brutal North Dakota winters were nothing to look forward to. It was at this time he decided to pursue another career path.

After high school Byron enrolled in the ROTC program at North Dakota State University. He married Joyce McLaughlin in 1949. Upon completing a degree in mechanical engineering, he started his career in 1953 as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force almost immediately sent him to graduate school, and he completed a master's degree in aeronautical engineering. During this time, Byron and Joyce had three children: Jody, Debbie, and Jeff. As a typical military family, they moved around a lot and were stationed in Ohio, Florida, New York, California, and Maryland. In 1970 Joyce was diagnosed with ovarian cancer while Byron was serving a tour of duty in Vietnam. Joyce died in September of 1970. The next year Byron married Mary McPherson. In 1973 Byron was given a new assignment at Kirtland AFB, and so the family, finally, moved to Albuquerque. In 1974 Byron and Mary had a child: Julie. During his Air Force career, Byron worked on many interesting projects, including the Atlas missile program in the early-to-mid 1960s (with launches from Vandenberg AFB) and flight tests of the F-15 aircraft in the mid-1970s at Nellis AFB. Byron retired from the Air Force in 1983 as a Lieutenant Colonel.

In retirement, Byron passed his time puttering around the home garden (still a farm boy at heart); fixing cars, his old tractor and Mary's sewing machine; serving at church as an elder and volunteering in the worship team. Byron occasional traveled with Mary to Europe, Israel, and Alaska, but home was always where his heart was. During the last few years of his life, he developed dementia. Mary, whose health was also in decline, did an incredible job of taking care of his needs. These last few months Byron couldn't get around, so he was under the special care of his daughter Julie and her husband Joseph Maxeyâ€"who both worked tirelessly to provide the care needed to keep him in his home where he loved being.

Byron was a loving father who was dedicated to his family and his country; he will be sorely missed. He was also a firm believer in Jesus Christ so we know that he has gone on to be with the Lord.

Byron is survived by his wife Mary; sister Lorene Kvittum; brother Eldon Mitchell; daughter Jody Krohn and granddaughter Jennifer and husband Bryan Bourgeois; daughter Deborah and husband James Cotter and grandchildren Christopher, Allison, and Jessica; son Jeff Mitchell and wife Lana; and daughter Julie and husband Joseph Maxey and children Joshua and Tiffany.

The family would like to thank Heritage Home Healthcare & Hospice, especially Tami, Matt, Swana, Melvin, Leslie, and Kaye. Thanks to Mary G. Reider for the additional care.

The funeral service will be held on Saturday, July 8, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. at New Beginnings Church located at 3601 Montgomery Blvd. NE in Albuquerque, NM. Burial will occur at Arlington Cemetery at a later date (to be determined). In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project. Those who wish to leave a condolence please visit

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Riverside Funeral Home of Albuquerque - Albuquerque
225 San Mateo NE
Albuquerque, NM 87108
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Published in Albuquerque Journal on July 7, 2017