Mitchell was born in Berkeley but was raised in Los Angeles, his family said. He joined the Cub Scouts during World War II, then the Boy Scouts and later Explorer Scouts in San Gabriel. In 1951, he became an Eagle Scout. He went on to attend Stanford University on a full undergraduate scholarship funded through the Dofflemyer Scholarship Fund for Eagle Scouts.
Mitchell also earned a full scholarship to attend Harvard Law School, where he met his wife Lynn, who was pursuing a graduate degree in education. They went on to live and work in Los Angeles before an offer to start a law firm in San Jose drew them to Northern California. Mitchell was a founding member of Palo Alto-based firm Hopkins & Carley and since 1993 had practiced with Hoge, Fenton, Jones & Appel in San Jose. He worked primarily in estate planning, family business succession and nonprofit law, his family said.
Mitchell devoted much of his practice to protecting the environment for future generations. He represented families that owned apricot, prune and cherry orchards on the Peninsula as well as major almond growers and dairy farmers in California. For 23 years he served on the Peninsula Open Space Trust board of directors, lending his legal expertise to the complicated process of people leaving their land to open space.
Mitchell was also a "pillar" of the First Congregational Church of Palo Alto, said Senior Minister David Howell. He led capital campaigns and building projects and served on search committees.
Mitchell was also a longtime board member for the Palo Alto Community Fund and volunteered with the Rotary Club of San Jose, the Stanford Historical Society and Friends of Music at Stanford. He and his wife won Avenidas' 19th annual Lifetimes of Achievement Award in 2008. In 2015, they won the Boy Scouts of America's Distinguished Citizens Award, given to those whose contributions have had lasting effects on the Peninsula community.
A memorial has been scheduled for Jan. 20 at 2 p.m. at The First Congregational Church, 1985 Louis Road, Palo Alto.
Mitchell is survived by his wife, Lynn Mitchell; daughters, Sarah Mitchell and Betsy Kinney; and grandchildren.
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