When someone as amazing as Jim Mitchell passes away everyone who ever knew him will feel that loss for the rest of his or her life. I am privileged to say that Jim was one of my friends and I have felt his loss since he passed away on Sunday, May 6 at the age of 88.
In journalism you are taught to use last names when writing a story but in this case, it just doesn’t feel right. Jim will always be “Jim” to me, or “Jim and Nancy”—it’s as simple as that.
My first recollection of Jim was when I became the Editor here at the Journal. He walked into my office with his West Point cap on and sat down in front of my desk with a smile on his face and his book, “Lake Stevens, My Town” in his hand.
He wanted to introduce himself and give me one of his books.
At first he told me about that cap on his head, going on and on about how proud he was of his grandson who was attending West Point Military Academy. He told me about his sons and his other five grandchildren and how wonderful they each were, each successful in their own special way.
He asked me if I had met his “beautiful” wife Nancy yet and assured me that I would get to know her well.
He showed me where his and his father’s pharmacy once stood next to the then, Neapolis Restaurant where the patio sits.
In that 45-minute conversation I realized what a gem Jim was and how much he loved this community. I’m still not sure what Lake Stevens will do without his knowledge of the great history of this unique and wonderful town.
My favorite memory of Jim and Nancy was when I got to write a story about their 60th Wedding Anniversary. They invited me into their beautiful home overlooking the south end of the lake and offered me tea and cookies.
We talked about their rich history together, their six decades of hard work, accomplishments and of course, their children and grandchildren. We laughed as we sifted through photo albums and they shared stories of what Lake Stevens used to be and how much it had changed over the last eighty years since Jim was born here.
I have many other memories of Jim selling tickets for the Lions Club, wearing his American Legion vest at meetings and gatherings, stopping by Dickens Fairs, Aquafest and dozens of service projects around town. I still envision him sitting at the front of the Sewer District meetings as he served as a Commissioner.
My memories of him go on and on and they are all memories I will treasure throughout my life.
Jim will be remembered for his infectious sense of humor, a man who worked hard and played hard, a true friend and a man who lived and breathed Lake Stevens.
But most of all Jim loved his family, especially his wife Nancy who was by his side until the end. I loved how his eyes would light up when he talked about her.