It is with profound sadness that I announce the death of my father-in-law, Charles Edward Mitchell, aged 88, of Philadelphia, Pa. Born July 7, 1925, in Seymore, Ind., he spent his early years growing up in Gary, Ind. The son of Edward and Lula Belle Mitchell, his humble beginnings didn’t deter him from rising to the top. In fact, nothing did.
Pledging for Omega Phi Psi at Morehouse, where he attended college from February 1943 to October 1944, his term was interrupted when he joined the United States Navy to fight in WWII. After the war, he came to New York City, where he earned his undergraduate degree from New York University in 1949, later meeting the lovely Julia Sarjeant.
It wasn’t long before they married and moved to Philadelphia, where they would raise their two sons, Charles and Albert. Besides his family, he had a passion for the law and continued his education first at Brooklyn Law School and then Temple University, where he received his law degree in 1954.
Mitchell began his legal career as a legal assistant in the office of the district attorney. There his responsibilities included the handling of homicide cases on receipt from magistrate courts, reviewing of evidence, interviewing of witnesses, preparation of Bills of Indictment and presentation to the Philadelphia grand jury.
Working his way up the ladder, he went on to become an attorney and examiner for the National Labor Relations Board prior to becoming the first of two African-American attorneys at E.I. Du Pont De Nemours in Wilmington, Del. Upon retirement from DuPont, he went on to become a labor arbitrator from 1993 to 2003 and an active member of the American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law.
Mitchell was a resident of Philadelphia for 61 years. He loved playing golf and enjoyed an active social life with his second wife, Lloyd Overton Mitchell, whom he wed after Sarjeant’s death.
On June 5, he passed peacefully at Philadelphia’s Temple University Hospital from cardiac arrest after slipping into a sudden coma the morning before. Upbeat about life, he always believed there were opportunities to be found and of which to take advantage. For me, I will always remember him as one who never had anything bad to say about anyone. Since his passing, I have incorporated this trait into my own being and I feel better already. Rest in peace, Dad, and ode to joy.
Condolences are also extended to the family of Robin Alexander Assaf, whose mother, Avis O. Alexander, born Oct. 18, 1922, passed away on May 29. There were two services for Alexander, one in Maryland and another held at Benta’s Funeral Home, with an interment at Evergreen Cemetery, Brooklyn, N.Y., and a repast at Londel’s.
Alexander was born in Amelia County, Va. At age 4, her parents relocated to Philadelphia. From Philadelphia, the family moved to New York, where they lived in New Rochelle and Sugar Hill. She attended Julia Richmond High School and even though it was an all-girls school, at the age 16, she somehow managed to meet William Alexander at a basketball game. They dated for two years before he was deployed overseas to serve in the United States Army in WWII. Avis waited five years for her love to return, and on her 23rd birthday in 1945, they were married.
Two daughters were born of this union, Shelly and Robyn. The family finally settled down in St. Albans, N.Y., and like many women of her generation, Alexander was a homemaker. Once her daughters were out of high school and ready to enter college, Alexander realized her childhood dream and became a tour consultant for TWA Airlines. She and her husband relocated from New York to Port St. Lucie, Fla., in 1987. After her husband and eldest daughter’s demise, Alexander relocated to California to live with daughter Robyn, her husband, Ricardo, and two granddaughters, Jode and Jaimee. Together, they lived there for four years before returning to the East Coast to live in Maryland.
Alexander was an avid reader and held an active interest in politics, reading the Washington Post on a daily basis and watching MSNBC. She is survived by a host of great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, grandnephews, great-grandnieces and nephews and loving friends who will miss her dearly.
With all of her love, Robyn made a sincere tribute to her mom as she wrote, “You have always been there through the thick and the thin, no matter what I’ve done, unconditionally your love never wavering. When I told you of the mistakes I made and all the times people saw me fall, you simply nodded and gently replied ‘so have we all.’
“The key to success is learning from the past, ensuring a brighter future is now the present task. A pillar of strength even until the end, fighting all life’s battles, knowing it triumphantly you would win, pushing me to be the best that you know I can be, reminding me to keep the faith and allow God to lead me. Knowing it’s through Christ that I can do all things, and as he never makes a mistake, I will come through victoriously.”
Deepest sympathy to Derrick and Claudia Singleton as Derrick’s mom, Betty Singleton, passed away June 3. She leaves behind another son and granddaughters, Sydney and Diamond, along with family and friends who love her and miss her dearly.
Until next week … kisses.