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Earl Mitchell
B: 1938-05-16
D: 2021-06-02
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610 S. Duncan St.
Stillwater, OK 74074
Phone: (405) 372-5550
Fax: (405) 372-5608
Earl Mitchell

Earl Douglass Mitchell Jr.

Monday May 16, 1938 - Wednesday June 2, 2021
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Obituary

Earl Mitchell, 83, died on June 2, 2021 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
A memorial service will be held in his honor at 2:00 p.m. on June 14, 2021 at the Wesley Foundation. The corresponding address to this facility is 823 W. University Avenue. In lieu of flowers, please consider giving to the causes that were closest to Earl’s heart: Our Daily Bread, The Wesley Foundation, OSU Multicultural Affairs Office and Xavier University Foundation of New Orleans.

Earl Douglass Mitchell, Jr. was born to Earl Douglass Mitchell, Sr. and Mary Duncan-Mitchell on May 16, 1938 in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a young boy, Mitchell took special interest in science, math, football and Bernice Compton-Mitchell. Earl and Bernice were High School sweethearts as a result of a well-timed, front-porch tuna fish sandwich and, what some might call, fate. While Earl attended Xavier University for his bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, Bernice worked in the library on the campus. The two were married on October 31st, 1959. They went on to have three children, Karen Y. Mitchell, Earl (Doug) Mitchell III and Michael T. Mitchell.

Mitchell was a high academic achiever, and much of the couple’s time was devoted to helping him realize his academic ambitions. Mitchell graduated from Michigan State University with a Ph.D. in Biochemistry. After earning his Ph.D, Earl and Bernice made their way to Stillwater, Oklahoma where Earl began his pursuit of a career in the field Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. He began his career as a research associate, but due to his passion for the field, and phenomenal work ethic, Mitchell was promoted to full professor in 1969. Dr. Mitchell was the first black tenured professor at Oklahoma State University, a leader in the fight for diversity and inclusion. Also, Dr. Mitchell was passionately involved with the Payne County Democrats, and advocate for the fundamental truths of the democratic party. At the heart, his desire was to see the needs of people met with compassion and love. Earl was a people’s person.

Coupled with a love for the field of biochemistry, Earl and his family devoted their lives to the pursuit of diversity, equality and inclusion on Oklahoma State’s campus, and in the community of Stillwater. The scope of their work, in this way, is felt in the lives of those who considered them friends and family. Their legacy lives on through those who were impacted by the quality of their living. Earl and Bernice worked diligently to weave a network, a tapestry, sewn with the fabric of equality and celebration of culture, as Mitchell’s example was one of love, kindness and fairness towards all people.

While at OSU, Mitchell continued to make strides in his field of academic discipline. With 35 publications, a robust teaching career, and numerous state and national awards related to his research findings and program development. Mitchell retired in February of 2007 as Department Head in Biochemistry at OSU.

More than a man of science, or a man of the people, Dr. Mitchell was a pillar and a light to the community of Stillwater, and to all who knew him. His kindness, his service, his friendship and his mentorship played defining roles in the lives of many. He loved well, and he led decisively, and all who knew him are better for having been with him.

As we remember him, we celebrate a life that was given just as fully as it was lived, to family and to friends, to congregants and constituents. And, as we remember him, we think of the exhortations that anchored his life. In the words of John Wesely: “To the good of people: By all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

Earl Mitchell was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Bernice Compton-Mitchell, his parents, Earl and Mary Duncan-Mitchell and his brother, Tyrone Duncan Mitchell.

Earl is survived by his children and their respective spouses: Karen Mitchell, Doug Mitchell (Sharlene
R. Matten) and Michael T. Mitchell (Tera Mitchell). Also, Dr. Mitchell is survived by his six grandchildren and one great-grandchild: Brendel J. Mitchell, Gabriel A. Mitchell, Reagan N. Mitchell, Ciara B.
Mitchell-Greenwood (Mason Mitchell- Greenwood) Bryson M. Mitchell and Reece D. Mitchell, and Zander Mitchell-Greenwood (Great-grandchild.) Earl is also survived by siblings and their respective spouses: Gerald Mitchell (Shirley Mitchell), Brenda Street, Linda Sanchez (King Sanchez), Syrene Mitchell (Verlene Mitchell) and Sandra Henry (Raymond Henry), their children and a host of close friends.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Monday, June 14th, 2021 | 2:00pm
    When
    Monday, June 14th, 2021 2:00pm
    Location
    Wesley Foundation
    Address
    823 W. University Avenue
    Stillwater, OK 74074
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email

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Chantele Bell

Posted at 06:39pm
My deepest sympathies to the family of Dr. Earl Mitchell. He was good friend and colleague to my mother Dr. Patricia Bell, who passed last year. Both were inducted into OSU Diversity Hall of Fame in the same year. I remember both Earl and Bernice during my Junior School days in Stillwater. My mother and I had Thanksgiving dinner at the Mitchell's and visited their home on more than one occasion.

Both of them were such lovely people.

Sincerely,
Chantele Bell
BW

Bob Weber

Posted at 09:37pm
In Memoriam
Earl Mitchell Jr. 1938-1961).
(Much of this applies to Bernice also; Gloria contributed many of these thoughts.)

I have known Earl for almost 55 years. Our professional and family lives intertwined in so many experiences of joy and sorrow. It is a friendship that is not only long but deep, one spanning time and space.

Most of us have ideals and values of family, friends, community. Earl’s values of caring and compassion, his opposition to inequality and injustice, were amplified and extended those values to the state, nation, and world community. He worked to make Oklahoma a better state--not always an easy thing to do. He worked to make our country better--not an easy project either. And he worked in other countries too. In all of these places he emphasized education and science, always with a hand that reached out to others who lacked advantage.

Those who toil in the bitter fields of injustice and inequality often need to step back in respite, to wipe away tears, to rest, to stop confronting the winds of hate and bigotry. If Earl sometimes felt discouragement, I never saw him hesitate. He always went back to the field to create a better crop, one with justice and equality for others. It is this unwavering commitment that I saw across these five-plus decades of friendship. I miss him almost as deeply as his family must. I miss him because the human community across all its boundaries and all its oceans needs so desperately the values and energy that formed his center of being.

Goodbye my friend, may your caring and your concerns live on.
Bob Weber
SK

Sally Jane Kerschen-Sheppard

Posted at 07:37pm
Earl was one of the kindest, smartest, and most inspiring people I have ever known. The Payne County Democrats, OSU, and Stillwater will not be the same without him. My deepest condolences to all his family.
EA

Eugenia Adams

Posted at 11:19pm
Karen, Doug and Michael.
"Death leaves a heartache difficult to heal
Love leaves sweet memories no one can steal." Unknown
May the memories of your love one and God's love give
you comfort and heal your wounded heart.
God's peace,
Eugenia
PD

Payne County Democrats

Posted at 04:08pm
With deepest sympathy.
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