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Daryl Gordon "Doc" Mitton


1922 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Daryl Gordon "Doc" Mitton Obituary
LAKESIDE - Daryl Gordon Mitton was born on the kitchen table of the family home in New London, Wisconsin on June 4, 1922. He was dyslexic, but because the condition was unknown at the time, he flunked kindergarten. His family moved to Shawano, Wisconsin and when he scored poorly on a college admissions test his counselor advised him not to go to college. He went anyway and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota in 1944.
Upon graduating, he was hired as a Process Engineer for Union Oil Los Angeles during WWII. (He earned the highest salary of any of his colleagues at $2,400 annually!) He authored the "Report on Post War Refining Operations" for Union Oil's return to domestic production after the war. He married high school classmate, Betty, later that year.
Mitton returned to the University of Minnesota to earn a Masters and Ph.D. in Business Management. Mitton was a professor at the University of Minnesota, University of California, Berkeley, and Naval Post-Graduate School in Monterey, CA before signing on at SDSU in 1970.
Doc Mitton was SDSU's first College of Business Administration professor to teach Entrepreneurship in 1971. He had a vision to create an Entrepreneurial Management Center at SDSU. In the mid-1980s Mitton raised the first million dollars for the Center with the commitment of and support of successful community entrepreneurs including Ron Fowler, owner of the Padres and namesake of SDSU's Fowler Gym and the Fowler College of Business, (Mitton's former department.) On Mitton's passing Fowler said, "He was a great man. He had a vision and I followed that vision."
Doc Mitton won almost every award offered in the entrepreneurial field. However, winning the 1991 Entrepreneur of the Year "Lifetime Achievement Award" was his most coveted. He was the first Lifetime Achievement Award-winner in San Diego, and only the third in the U.S., including Ted Turner. He retired Professor Emeritus in 1993.
From 1957-1970 Mitton put his own entrepreneurial skills to work combining his training in chemical engineering and business management to form the Chemical Energy Company. He built a chemical milling plant, masking and etching metals with various caustic and acids, removing weight where it was structurally unneeded to enable bigger payloads on air and spacecraft. ChemEnCo was a government subcontractor to Convair, General Dynamics, Boeing, AeroJet, General Electric and North American during the "Moon Race". He manufactured parts on all the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft. It was during his time in industry that Mitton earned the nickname "Doc" because he had a Ph.D.
During the 1960s – 1970s Mitton also contributed to business and the community as President of the Board: San Diego Center for Children, President of the Board: SDSU Aztec Shops and Student Union, and Vice President of Chemical Milling for Straza Industries.
In 1973, Doc and his wife Betty of almost 70 years, co-wrote "Managerial Clout", an experiential and informational book to help aspiring business-people gain skills associated with entrepreneurship. It was used by Mitton and other professors around the world, and is still in publication.
After retirement, Doc and Betty moved to Eucalyptus Hills in Lakeside to enjoy living on the same country road with their daughters and their families, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and their many cats, dogs and horses. In 1994 he began writing his memoirs. Recounting his accomplishments, Mitton said "I've had a fun, interesting, challenging, varied and lucrative career. It really has been a great life! "
Doc was dedicated to physical fitness and began jogging in the 1960s when President Kennedy issued the Physical Fitness Challenge, a program to promote measurable improvement in fitness nationwide. He continued to exercise with the help of a personal trainer until a week before he died. He often joked, "I guess old age is inevitable if you live long enough!"
Doc was at home with his family when he passed. He was pre-deceased by Betty in 2011. He is survived by daughters Cyndi Jo Means and Debbie Mitton, grandchildren Erin, Ben, Becky, and Andi Jo, and great grandchildren Josephine, Parker, Brio, Betty, Shauna and Aria, all of Lakeside and East County San Diego.
Published in The San Diego Union Tribune from Jan. 9 to Jan. 10, 2019
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