Monday, June 09, 2008

Jim Mitchell, 1950-2008

When I look back at 30+ years in the radio industry, there was no place I felt more at home than at WHDH in Boston. I was a Massachusetts kidding living my boyhood dream, working in radio in Boston. Even better, the people I worked with really were like family.

Word came today that another family member has passed away. Jim Mitchell was one of our newscasters. I used to joke that he was in the CIA, because he'd swoop into town from -- it seemed -- nowhere, plop down and do a great job and then disappear, only to reappear again. I'd heard he was in some sort of secret ops in Vietnam, so I was only half-joking.

When my old friend Nick Young (I've written about him here before, too), Jim took on the morning anchor duties on the Jess Cain show (and I've written about Jess here, too). I wish I could find some clips of the old Cain's Crew TV commercials.

I hadn't seen or talked to Jim since and that was about 25 years ago. But I'm not surprised to find his love had taken him to a bookstore.

Here's his obituary (written by his sister), which was forwarded to me today by another "family member."

Henry Milnor “Jim” Mitchell died June 4, 2008 of a heart attack in his home, MainStreet Bookends of Warner. Born March 17, 1950 in Charlottesville, VA, he was the first child of Arthur Hayne Mitchell, Jr. and Edith Looker Mitchell.

With his sister and brother-in-law, he in 1998 created and became co-owner of the community bookstore MainStreet BookEnds of Warner. In his ten years operating the store, it won numerous awards, including Yankee Magazine’s “Must-See Bookstore of New England,” and NH Magazine’s “Best Community Bookstore.” It became the focal point and gathering place for the town. Here he coordinated over 300 events a year, including concerts, lectures, classes, story hours, and the meeting of primary presidential candidates. He was a former director of the annual Warner Fall Foliage Festival, served on numerous town committees, and was named Warner’s “Citizen of the Year” in 2004.

Jim was a decorated Vietnam veteran, being named “Airman of the Year” in 1970. He began his long radio career as a news anchor with WLNH in Laconia, New Hampshire, and moved to WSB Radio in Atlanta, GA where he stayed until 1981. He then came back to New England to anchor the morning news at WHDH Radio in Boston, the afternoon news at WEEI-AM, and then in 1998 became the weekend news anchor for WBZ NewsRadio 1030. He also served as a union negotiator for the news crew. He received numerous broadcast awards including several awards from the Associated Press for "Best Newscast." He was most proud of his award for "Best Spot News" coverage of the World Airways crash at Logan International airport in Boston in 1982, and was known in the Boston area for bringing human interest stories from all around the world. He had traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, South America and the South Pacific.

He will forever be remembered for his clear voice, his humble nature, for his million small gestures of kindness, his ability to make everyone laugh and feel at ease, and his “free balloon hour” in the bookstore.

He leaves behind his adoring sister, Katharine Mitchell Nevins, and her husband, Neil, of Warner. Their children Lane, Matthias, Colin and Klare were his greatest loves. He is also survived by a brother Arthur Mitchell of Virginia, his wife Monica, and their children Katharine, Andrew and Thomas, his aunt Karen Hyde also of Virginia and many cousins. He leaves behind a huge and grateful community of friends in Warner, at WBZ, and within the world of radio news.

Jim’s passion and greatest pride was the little town of Warner. He worked to encourage and promote all the artists, writers, musicians and children that live there. To honor Jim’s spirit and life work, his plans and dream for a community park between the bookstore and the Pillsbury Free Library of Warner will come true. Any donations should be directed, in his name, toward MainStreet Warner, Inc., P.O. Box 248, Warner, NH 03278, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that he created. Burial will be private, but a celebration of his life will be held at the Warner Town Hall on Tuesday, June 17 at 2 pm to be followed by a reception at his home, The Gallery at MainStreet Bookends.

1 comment:

California Girl said...

I work with alot of Boston radio folk and always send them your news about former colleagues they may have known or listened to back in the day.