John Mitchell

Obituary of John C. Mitchell

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After a period of declining health, John passed away at age 90 on June 10, 2024, still maintaining his stubborn optimism and sharp wit to the very end. 

John was born February 21, 1934 to Burr C. and Margaret P. Mitchell on Islesboro, Maine during a rare winter when Penobscot Bay completely froze over.


As a child he roamed and explored the woods and shoreline of Ames Cove with his siblings Buddy, Kay, and Ruthie. The Mitchell home was a weekly gathering spot for friends and family to sing and play songs both old and new. 


John graduated from Islesboro High School in 1951 in the same building that would later house the Islesboro Historical Society that he would lead during his retirement.


John served as a signal corpsman in the U.S. Army from 1954-1957 before returning to the island and attending the University of Maine in Orono where he received a degree in education in 1961.


While at UMaine, John was a founding member of  the Maine Steiners, an a cappella barbershop-style singing group. He sang first tenor and served as musical arranger. In 2022, he attended his last Steiners concert and was honored and recognized as the last surviving original group member.


After graduation, John was a social studies teacher and administrator in several small Maine towns, which led to a successful career in educational publishing, first with Follett, and later with Laidlaw, Doubleday, Grolier, and Scholastic. It was through this career change that he met a beautiful spitfire named Patricia, and John’s confirmed bachelorhood was quickly over. The two married and settled in Center Sandwich, New Hampshire. John eagerly took on the role of doting husband and supportive, loving stepfather, and after a baby girl joined the family in 1974, he said their “full house” was completed (three boys, two girls). 


After John’s career as a sales manager expanded, the Mitchells moved to Atlanta where they enjoyed swimming, tennis, and an annual lobster bake with friends to honor his Maine roots.  Pat and John enjoyed traveling to see their children and grandchildren, which were spread wide across the country from Hawaii to Florida to New Hampshire and Maine. 


In 2000, John and Pat retired to Islesboro, where they immersed themselves in island life. Always one to keep busy, John volunteered at Pendleton Library and played ukulele and banjo in the Charlie Pendleton Band. As President of the Islesboro Historical Society, he oversaw the rehabilitation of the organization's physical building and the overhaul of the exhibits showcasing island life from years ago.


Even after his time with the Society, John would give presentations and write articles for the local newspaper about topics such as former residents, industry on the island, or daily life.  He also connected with islanders on Facebook by frequently “treating” them to his quizzes and photos of people and places of old Islesboro that reflected his wealth of knowledge and passion for it to be shared and not forgotten!


Fueled by a belief that Islesboro residents should have a place to come together, John was co-chair and treasurer of a fundraising effort to build a new Islesboro Community Center, using his strong communication and people skills to convince contractors, bankers and the board of directors to push forward through various challenges. 


John was preceded in death by his parents, sisters Ruth Hartley and Katherine Gray,  sister-in-law Virginia Mitchell, and brothers-in-law Grayson Hartley, Ralph Gray, and James Ruel. He was also predeceased by his in-laws, Patrick and Elsie Ruel.


Survivors include his loving wife Patricia, children Kirke (Nancy), Mark (Jeanne), Karen (Cliff), Chris (Denise), and Rebecca (Bill), grandchildren Ben, Jon, Megan, Leila, Keriane, Forrest, Clinton, Brittany, Annie, Fallon, and Paddy, brother Maurice Mitchell, sister-in-law Diane Ruel, as well as 16 great-grandchildren, special nieces, nephews, and cousins.


The family would like to thank the dedicated staff at the Islesboro Health Center. The island is lucky to have such professional and personal care for its residents. The attention and care given to John over these past few years has been unmatched. Thank you also to the Islesboro Ambulance and Ferry Crews. We are forever grateful. 


A service will be planned for later in the summer. 


Donations in John’s memory may be made to:


Islesboro Health Center

P.O. Box 137                            

Islesboro, ME 04848




Islesboro Historical Society 

P.O. Box 301

Islesboro, ME 04848


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John Mitchell

In Loving Memory

John Mitchell

1934 - 2024

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