by Jane Mitchell, daughter
From her birth in Riverside, California, to April 11, 2021 in Coronado, Lydieann “Ann” Juanita Glick Mitchell experienced life to its fullest, in planes, trains, automobiles and more. Pictures and home movies are a fantastic portal into her journey; a kaleidoscope of the facets of her life: independence, love, family, curiosity, teaching and learning.
She attributed her approach to life and sense of adventure to her upbringing. Ann’s parents divorced and in 1936, her mother, Mary Ruth, a Bible College graduate, took Ann (12) and her little brother on a three-week voyage on a British freighter, to the Philippines, for missionary work. Her mother didn’t believe in doctors, so help for a brain tumor, upon their return, was too late. That story is captured in her 67-page autobiography, “Mama was Gypsy: My Wild Irish Mother.” For a birthday video by daughter Jane Mitchell, Ann shared, “My mother said ‘Lydieann, don’t cry when I die. Because I’m going to Heaven, so don’t cry. I’ll see you someday.’ I said no, I want to die when you go. When you die. I did cry. I went into a closet and cried. The one thing she did say was ‘Lydieann, don’t do anything that Jesus wouldn’t want you to do.’” And that is how Ann lived her life.
Thoughtful and reflective, here is an excerpt from her story, written and edited between 1995 and 2021.
“To my children, I wanted to be different from my mother in some ways. Concern for their welfare and their education has been foremost in my life, many times to a fault…. My own children might someday say about me, ‘Like Mother, Like Daughter. My Wild Irish Mother. She’s a Gypsy, too.’"
At 14, in Seattle, she worked through high school and the University of Washington as a live-in maid/child caregiver, then, after World War II, as a dance teacher. Nicknamed “Miss Star” she had turned down marriage proposals, until she met a student -- a vibrant, handsome sailor. “So, Wally had the same thought. And when I saw him,” she said, “I thought he’s the one that I would like!” They married Nov. 2, 1946. Their small wedding cost $50.
Her new husband, “J” Wallace Mitchell was often stationed at Naval Air Station North Island, beginning in 1948, and they bought homes in Coronado where they raised their children, Jerald, Scott, Robyn and Jane.
Ann taught 31 and a half years (retired 1989) with 20 years at Oneonta Elementary in Imperial Beach. She made her second grade Room 5 fun: baking Monster Cookies to learn math, publishing their own stories, and introducing her students to new things with field trips or a visit to her home for ice cream. Her 1985 classroom’s book dedication included “To my husband Wally, who warns me not to, but helps me when I do.”
Ann and Wally (retired Commander, 30 years USN) showed their children the world on a shoestring budget, and the duo traveled overseas and in their Airstream trailer until 1991 when Wally was diagnosed with ALS. After Wally’s passing in 1994, she traveled with friends and her children/grandchildren, finding adventure around every corner or conversation, abroad or at home, at Concerts in the Park, the Senior Association, the Bridge and Bay Garden Club, or walking about town with her 4-wheel scooter she needed for balance after hip surgery. She even survived three serious bouts of pneumonia.
She had empathy for people at different stages in life and generously shared her “Mitchell Manor” home with those needing a respite, a place to stay, a vacation, or just a serendipitous meeting. Strangers became friends with grateful hearts and happy memories. Always a cheerleader and encourager, she inspired many to express themselves and follow their passions and dreams.
At her “Around the World in 95 Years So Far” themed party, Mayor Richard Bailey proclaimed Saturday May 18, 2019 as “Ann Mitchell Day.” In 2020, she beamed at a Covid-allowed drive/walk-by 96th birthday parade. Four days later, she broke her wrist in a fall and recovered from another bout of pneumonia. Unable to grip her trusty scooter well while in a cast, she needed more care at home, making the best of each day. That included creating smoothies in her Vitamix, wheelchair walks to feed the seagulls, watching the sunset and home movies and videos, re-living happy and adventurous times.
She read the local obituaries and lived those lives vicariously for a moment, feeling like those featured had perfect and happy lives. She pondered what her obituary would say and wanted it to be nice yet asked that it include that among her countless blessings, she had experienced heartache, betrayal and disappointment, some in her Golden Years. “That is the truth,” she would often say and write. She was an eternal optimist who stood up, spoke up, or expressed her ideas publicly and privately when something she noticed didn’t seem right. She hoped that doing right would win out over being right, and that her views and experiences from all phases of her life will help others someday, too, even in her passing.
She recently thanked Dr. Asha Devereaux and her team Karen and Lupita, as do we, for their extraordinary care during her health ups and downs. As some friends wrote in a condolence note, “Your mom never wanted to miss out on anything… and you made sure she got there!... She was an Energizer Bunny who just kept going!”
A turn in her health by Easter meant three days in the hospital, home for one more sunset, rest, music, messages and prayers, with Sharp Hospice’s exceptional support. Holding our hands, she went to Heaven to be with God and her favorite dance partner, Wally. This is all part of her story, her legacy. She was a “Gypsy, too” in all the most wonderful, genuine, and generous ways. She once said, “It feels like I’ve used my life well.” Well, indeed.
Ann’s remains will join Wally’s in a private family ceremony at Fort Rosecrans.
She is survived by her four children: Jerald Mitchell, Scott Mitchell, Robyn Mitchell-Stong, and Jane Mitchell; eight grandchildren (oldest to youngest) Tyler Mitchell, Jeremy Mitchell, Ryan Stong, Elizabeth Mitchell, Katharyn Stong, Spencer Stong, Morgan Mitchell, Lily Mitchell; two great grandchildren Nevaeh and Kali; and a half-sister Judi Craft of Seattle.
Submitted with respect and love for our remarkable mother, Jane and Jerald “Mitch” Mitchell.