Earl Mitchell, 83, died on June 2, 2021 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Earl Douglass Mitchell Jr., please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.
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.