James Edward Mitchell
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1942 - 2016
VASSALBORO - James Edward Mitchell, 74, of Vassalboro, passed away peacefully on Sept. 9, 2016, surrounded by his family.
Jim was born on Jan. 19,1942, in Little Rock, Ark., to William Starr Mitchell and Virginia Grobmyer Mitchell. He graduated from Little Rock's Hall High School, where he was president of the student body the year after the public schools had been closed. He graduated from Princeton University and Yale School of Law.
Brilliant with languages, he spent a year in Beirut after his college graduation, working at the American School and learning Arabic. During that year, he and his wife-to-be, Elizabeth (Libby) Anne Harrill, traveled in Europe during school breaks and he proposed marriage to her at 12:01am on New Year's Day 1965 at the Colosseum in Rome. Before returning stateside, they toured Jordan and North Africa on a motorcycle. They wed in Gaffney, S.C., on August 21, 1965, followed by a ceremony at Bruton Parish in Williamsburg, Va. Theirs was a great love and an exemplary marriage. They celebrated their 51st anniversary before he passed.
Jim and Libby moved to Maine in 1971 when he came to work on the staff of Governor Ken Curtis, then later directed the Maine Housing Authority. He ran for U.S. Congress and came in a close second in a 7-way Democratic primary after having lived in Maine just a short time. After that run, he turned his focus to his law practice, Mitchell & Davis, which he built and ran with his law partner, Jed Davis, for 45 years.
In addition to his law practice, Jim was elected Kennebec County Judge of Probate in 1979, a position he has held ever since his first run. He is the author of the Maine Probate Manual, so he literally wrote the book on Probate in Maine. He was a member of the Bar in Maine, Arkansas, Connecticut, and several Federal Courts. He won the Justice Louis Scolnik award from the Maine Civil Liberties Union in 2009, recognized for his tireless efforts to find justice and liberty for some of Maine's most powerless population. At that award ceremony Jim described himself as "a radical liberal Marine judge with conservative values." Service to country was important to Jim and he was a Marine Corps Captain in Vietnam, awarded a Bronze Star for valor.
Jim loved life and above all, his wife and family. They can all quote his directive to them, "What does the Lord thy God require of thee? To do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God." He enjoyed spending time at the Kineo home he built for his family to enjoy together, driving his boat and snowmobile wide open across Moosehead Lake depending on the season. He cherished his four children and nine grandchildren and would move heaven and earth to make them happy. He loved practicing law, duck hunting, helping his children with their businesses from bowling to horses, taking care of his family, traveling with Libby, and attending his grandchildren's sporting events no matter how far he had to travel. He was kind, generous, patient, and wise. He was revered and loved by many.
James was predeceased by his parents and a sister, Marilyn Mitchell. He is survived by his wife, Libby Mitchell; his children Elizabeth Mitchell, Will Mitchell and wife Laurie Mitchell, Charlie Mitchell and wife Kaylene Mitchell, and Emily Mitchell and husband Bill Rafuse; nine grandchildren, Hannah Scheuer and husband Jeremy Scheuer, Sophie, Abigail, and Elles Krieckhaus, James and Anna Mitchell, Elliott and Willa Rafuse, and West Mitchell; two sisters, Starr Mitchell, and husband George West, and Frances Ross of Little Rock, Ark.; and numerous nieces and nephews, who cherished him.
Services will be held Tuesday, Sept. 13, 10 a.m., at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Portland, followed by a reception.
Interment will be followed at a later date at Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Augusta. Also later will be a memorial service at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock, Ark.
An online guestbook may be signed and memories shared at www.lawrybrothers.com. Funeral arrangements are by Lawry Brothers Funeral Home, 107 Main St., Fairfield, ME
Memorial contributions to Jim
may be made to:
Maine Justice Foundation
40 Water St.
Hallowell, ME 04347 or:
LAWRY BROTHERS FUNERAL HOME - FAIRFIELD
107 MAIN ST
Fairfield, ME 04937
Published in Central Maine on Sept. 11, 2016