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Thomas Mitchell


1943 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Thomas Mitchell Obituary
Thomas Edward Mitchell

May 15, 1943 - November 30, 2018

Born in San Jose, Tom Mitchell moved to San Francisco in the late 1950's and was in the first graduating class from Herbert Hoover Jr. High School. He went to Lincoln H.S. after graduating from Drew School in 1962, then entered SF State for undergraduate studies. Tom interrupted undergraduate studies to fulfill his military obligation. He served in the US Army for a 3-year tour in Germany, learning German in the process, honorably discharged as an (Acting) Sergeant (E5). Returning to SFSU and transferred to UC Riverside where he graduated with Honors in 1969. He next undertook graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison under a Rockefeller Scholarship during 1970 thru 1973, completing coursework and exams toward a PhD. While groomed for a research position in late medieval scholastic thought in Germany, he decided against such a specialized niche. During that period he lectured in Western Civilization at SFSU while he made the transition back.

Tom acquired an interest in construction and real estate during the 1970's Victorian Revival in SF. He worked summers in remodeling, then staggered teaching during a semester with helping friends' construction projects, until deciding to go full time into construction and licensure as a General Contractor. Mitchell Construction never fast-tracked toward large-scale success but did at one time have 32 associates working on 7 projects concurrently and over the years completed commercial and award-winning projects.

In the 1980's after a construction heyday, he downsized his construction efforts, obtained an RE broker's license and started buying and remodeling for himself. He acquired and developed 15 residential properties in the SF Bay Area including many Victorians, although his later preference was mid-century modern structures, and here he found his stride and passion in real estate and construction.

After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, RE in the Bay Area was dormant for the better part of two years which threw a wet blanket on all real estate activity. Without projects, he took his research background into the world of inspecting buildings where he learned the business by association with local inspection experts and his many friends and colleagues at the American Society of Home Inspectors, where he served as President of the Bay Area Chapter GGASHI twice and earned Inspector of the Year Award.

Tom was a lifelong athlete, walking weekly with his wife and often many friends in the Presidio, and was active in running, tennis, squash, skiing, SCUBA and golf. He continued to work out and swim three times a week at the downtown Olympic Club where he made many happy acquaintances and enjoyed maintaining his health and athleticism.

Tom traveled extensively with Peili throughout Europe, South America, South East Asia, Japan, and China.

Within the past number of years he continued his enthusiasm purchasing and developing mid-century residences in East Oakland.

Tom is survived by his wife, Peili Zhu, of 19 years, their two cats Tiger and Keya, sister Linda, step-sister Sharon Coughlan, and step-brother Frank. He is predeceased by his father Chris in 1998 and mother Jean in 2010. Tom died of complications of inoperable throat cancer.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Dec. 8 to Dec. 10, 2018
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