The Greatest Generation has lost another honorable member: Charles Austin Mitchell, MD, age 101, beloved doctor and active member of the community, joined his loving wife of 65 years, Annie Martin, in heaven Tuesday, June 14, 2022, surrounded by his family.
Born October 1, 1920, the son of Almont and Marie Hollingsworth Mitchell in Whiteville, TN, he is already dearly missed by his children and grandchildren and legions of Sparta citizens who, as their family doctor, considered him a member of their own family. His presence as a caring MD in the Sparta area is legendary: a surgeon and family practitioner who was known throughout the region for his compassionate care and unflagging dedication to his patients and to the art of healing.
Dr. Mitchell always set his standards high. As a young commander in World War II right out of college, Capt. Mitchell became a hero to his men and to his country and received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and 4 Battle Stars for heroism and leadership well beyond the call of duty during the Battle of the Bulge. The nation of Belgium bestowed on him the title of Honorary Member of the Fraternite d’Anciennes Combattants for heroic action. In 1998, he had the honor of being present for the commemoration of a plaque saluting the heroism of Capt. Mitchell and the men of the 526th Armored Infantry Battalion A Company at the Chateau de Grimonster in Ferrieres, Belgium, near the battle of Stavelot. As past President of the Veterans of the 526th, he was selected by the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, VA. He is still praised and called a hero by those of his men who survive and their families who keep in touch with their esteemed and much-loved Capt. Mitchell. His heroism during WW II has been documented in several books of history and on the Internet. There is a display of memorabilia from Capt. Mitchell’s WW II career in the Veteran’s Museum of White County in Sparta.
Dr. Mitchell’s civic contributions are many: 3-time President and ever-active member of the Sparta Rotary Club, major donor to the Rotarian Foundation and, as a Rotarian, a founding contributor to The Veterans Park of Sparta where he is represented on the Wall of Honor: In his 99th year, Dr. Mitchell was named as “Rotarian of the Year” and commended for his years of service to the community; member of the Board of the United Methodist Church and Sunday School teacher for over 50 years; a certified Master Gardener who wrote a monthly gardening column in the Sparta Expositor for many years; the first Chief of Staff of White County Community Hospital; a proud and active governing member of the Board of Directors of Burgess Falls State Park; a long-time member of the Sparta-White County Chamber of Commerce, having served as Chairman of the Board of Directors; active contributor to and on the Board of Trustees of the White County Library where there is an outdoor sitting area dedicated to his wife, Annie Martin Mitchell; White County Citizen of the Year, founding donor to Sparta Recreational Park which bears a plaque commemorating the civic contributions of his wife, Annie Martin; instrumental in establishing the Red Cross Bloodmobile Program in White County and continued to be an active supporter with his gifts and volunteer work; a donor and active supporter of his alma mater, the University of Tennessee. On his 100th birthday, the mayor and city of Sparta proclaimed October 1, 2020 “Charles A. Mitchell Day.”
He is survived by his children Virginia Marie “Jennarie” Zarka of Houston, Dr. Charles Austin Mitchell, Jr. and wife Janis of Nashville, and Robert Almont Mitchell and wife Jane of Whiteville, TN; his grandchildren Roman Zarka and wife, Holly; Jessica Zarka Calcote and husband, Tracy; Almont “Monty” Mitchell, Jr.; Dr. Charles “Austin” Mitchell, III and wife Leslie; Aaron Mitchell and wife Angela; Ayse Mitchell and husband Chris Benson; Estelle Mitchell; Annie Mitchell and wife Riley; nephews Robert, William and Charles Jolley; 10 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. He is predeceased by his sister, Virginia Mitchell Jolley.
A lover of the arts and music, particularly opera, an accomplished reciter of classical poetry much to the joy of his family, a world traveler who sought to learn and enjoy the beauty and gifts of other cultures, Dr. Mitchell will be remembered as a man of courage, wisdom and civility who earned the love and respect of all who knew him for his unselfish contributions, his extraordinary spirit, and that irrepressible joie de vivre which was with him up until his very last days on this earth.
Funeral services will be held 1pm Friday, June 17, 2022 at the First Methodist Church with burial in Highland Cemetery. Military Honors will be presented by the Veterans’ Honor Guard. The family will receive friends from 11am to 1pm at the church. Ken Wallace and Jeff Guth will officiate the service. Dr. Mitchell’s grandchildren will serve as his pallbearers. Everyone is invited to attend.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the White County Library or the Sparta First United Methodist Church in care of Hunter Funeral Home, PO Box 90, Sparta, TN 38583.
Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Hunter Funeral Home.