Sunday, November 18, 2018

Bruce Mitchell

Bruce Mitchell of Louisville, Mississippi, a remarkable and greatly beloved man, died peacefully in his sleep at age 91, surrounded by his loving family in the house he built many years ago on Highway 25 South in Winston County. 

Friends and family can pay their respects at the visitation on Tuesday, November 20 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at. Nowell Massey Funeral Home, 724 N. Columbus Avenue, Louisville, (662) 773-3501. Funeral Services will be at Calvary Baptist Church, Hwy 25 South, Louisville, Mississippi on Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. with interment following in Camp Ground Cemetery.

Bruce touched and uplifted countless people during his long and fruitful life, but none more than his family. He was the son of Earl Mitchell and Marie Mitchell, who raised livestock and timber on their small farm in the Poplar Flat community in northeast Winston County. Earl and Marie instilled all the right values in Bruce and his siblings - Indy “Nella Dean” Whitten, Bob Mitchell, and H.C. Mitchell. Each would go on to graduate from college, live out their deep Christian faith, and make the world a better place for their families and communities.

When his country called, Bruce answered. He enlisted in the United States Navy near the end of World War II and served honorably. Naturally, his mother wrote him letters every day, sent care packages, and clippings from the Winston County Journal. One of those clippings particularly caught his eye - a story about a young woman from the south part of the County who had raised prize winning vegetables. Not long after he returned from naval service, Bruce made sure to meet this lovely, industrious young woman, Sue Kirkpatrick. With ready approval from the Kirkpatricks, Sue said “yes” to this energetic, entertaining, hardworking, bright-eyed, red-headed young man from the Poplar Flat community.

Sue’s parents, Hayes and Ollie Kirkpatrick, invited Bruce and Sue to build their new home across Highway 25 (Old Robinson Road) and to farm the surrounding land. Bruce was a skilled carpenter, electrician and plumber, but he also learned to lay brick when it came time to build the fireplace and chimney, and did it beautifully. Whether it was his own house, those he built for others, barns or bookcases, Bruce built things strong, lasting, and dependable.

Bruce and Sue set forth on a side-by-side life journey and they remained at each other’s sides until the end. They complemented each other in innumerable ways. Together, they created and sustained a large, loving extended family of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. All the while, they also devoted themselves tirelessly to the support of Calvary Baptist Church and the good works of the Church, both locally and abroad. Bruce was a Deacon and dedicated Sunday School teacher for many years, and he gave to the Church generously and regularly in many other ways. He could fix anything, bring down three quail on a covey rise, and grew acres of delicious peaches, pecans and watermelons for family, friends and neighbors to enjoy. Dozens of stranded motorists on Highway 25 knew him only as the kind gentleman who stopped to help, and got them on their way again.

After farming full time for several years, Bruce went back to Mississippi State University and obtained his Ph.D in entomology. This led to his long service as an entomologist with the United States Department of Agriculture at the Boll Weevil Laboratory located adjacent to Mississippi State’s campus. Bruce became one of the leading boll weevil scientists in the nation. He was the principal developer of the pheromone trap that became the cornerstone of the federal government’s successful effort to eradicate the boll weevil in the Deep South. This work took Bruce around the United States and Mexico, and he presented his research at major scientific conferences. During his years working for the Department of Agriculture, Bruce also developed close, lasting friendships with his fellow research scientists. And many stories to tell!

Bruce combined tremendous intellectual curiosity with a joyful zest for life. He was always positive and upbeat, a captivating story teller and conversationalist. He and Sue enjoyed traveling throughout the United States and abroad. Bruce loved and followed his Mississippi State Bulldogs in all the major sports, whether on his transistor radio or satellite television. Yet he knew there were much more important things than the outcome of a ballgame.

Bruce was a staunch “yellow dog” Democrat, dating back to and inspired by what he saw during the Great Depression. But he was always understanding and respectful of the other person’s point of view and could discuss politics amicably with anyone. Bruce loved this country with all his heart and proudly flew the American flag every day.

Bruce bestowed a father’s deepest love on his three children: Judith Mitchell Wiener (Joshua), Michael Hayes Mitchell (Sharon) and Janet Marie Mitchell. He is survived by grandchildren who cherished every minute they spent with him: Julia Wiener Valenti, Henry Wiener and Jon Wiener; Brooke Manigold Carpenter, Hayes Mitchell, Jordan Mitchell, and 5 great grandchildren. So too, Bruce became a member of the Kirkpatrick family and is survived by his beloved, steadfast sister-in-law, Martha Dubard (Leo) and their children, Lynn McGough, (Michael), Michelle Dubard-Brou (Robbie), having been predeceased by Bridget Dubard.

Words cannot express our gratitude for Jan Mitchell’s excellent and tireless care for Bruce during these last years.

Those who wish may donate in Bruce's name to Calvary Baptist Church, c/o Jo Ellen Johnson, 4109 Old Robinson Road, Louisville, MS 39339 or to the Alzheimer's Association, P.O. Box 96011, Washington, DC 20090-6011.