Thomas Anthony Mitchell passed away on Sunday, August 27, 2017, at Hospice House, with family present. He was 87 years old.
"Commitment." Thomas Anthony "Tom" Mitchell epitomized the word. He was committed to his profession, the practice of law. He was committed to his wife, Jo An "Jody", until she passed away in 2008. They married September 26, 1957. Keith's father died in an accident the year before. Tom and Jody had been sweethearts in college, and they reconnected when they both landed in Coeur d'Alene – living in the same boarding house and working in the same building downtown. The universe definitely gave them a push to get back together! Tom was committed to his marriage to Jody and to raising Keith as his own. Over the next 12 years, their marriage brought John, Jim, Pat, Mike and Liz into this world. Tom was a wonderful father in every sense of the word.
While committed, he wasn't without spontaneity. While attending the University of Idaho, he applied to enter the College of Law on a dare from a friend (Gene Bush), who bet him a case of beer he wouldn't sign up. He signed up. Because of Tom's commitment, he became one of Idaho's finest courtroom lawyers of his generation. He practiced throughout the State of Idaho for over 40 years. He knew the rules of evidence so well that in 1979 he was appointed by the Idaho State Bar Association to serve on the Idaho Evidence Committee, which created Idaho's Rules of Evidence. In 1987 Tom was honored by the Idaho State Bar Association's Distinguished Lawyer Award. Tom was a Bar Commissioner on the Idaho State Bar from 1974-77 and served as its President. Tom was one of the founding members of the Idaho Trial Lawyers' Association. He mentored many younger lawyers in this area. He truly loved the practice of law. Tom was supremely committed to his clients, regardless of their ability to pay for his services. He believed in getting to know someone instead of judging them by wealth, job title or superficial criteria. A belief he passed on to all his children.
Tom was committed to church. He and Jody were married at St. Thomas and they were a founding family of St. Pius X Parish where his older children attended school. Tom was the leader of Catholic high school searches (retreats). At one of his son's basketball games he, and parish priest Father John Morgan, were ejected from the gym for their exuberant cheering skills. Tom taught his kids to ski and swim. He tried teaching us golf, with left-handed clubs made for his 6'4" frame. He loved the outdoors and nature - he knew the name of any tree or plant (or would convincingly make it up). As a teenager working at Yellowstone Park, he hiked the circumference of the whole park over a summer, and Yellowstone remained one of his favorite places.
He was a good carpenter, despite often getting his thumbs in the way of the hammer, and he fancied himself a shade tree mechanic. Fortunately his courtroom skills far eclipsed his aptitude as a mechanic. Idaho's evidence rules lack any reference to Duct Tape, whereas Duct Tape was the go-to fix for most of the family cars. "Fix" is used loosely here. With six children there was lots of "fixing" that was needed, it just didn't always happen until the tow truck came.
Tom was committed to his children. There was always the unspoken expectation we would go to college and get a degree. We did, with his help. He loved being a grandfather - after the birth of his first grandchild, he took to saying old quote, "Grandchildren are so fun I should've had them first." He liked to say that within earshot of his kids.
Tom had a wonderful sense of humor. He could tell a great story - or a bad joke - and have everyone laughing at either. As one of his nieces put it - he was a man of dry wit and relaxed warmth. True words to describe a good man.
Tom is survived by his children: John, James, Patrick, Michael and Elizabeth; his sisters Jacqueline Last, Nancy Mitchell and Patty Mitchell; daughters-in-law: Linda, Tamrah and Laura; grandchildren: Melissa, Molly, Andy, Malcolm, Clarissa and Hunter; and well as a wonderful bunch of cousins, nieces and nephews, and grand and great-grand nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his beloved wife Jody and son Keith.
Tom's family would like to thank the Garden at Orchard Ridge for their kind care of Tom the past several years, and thanks to Hospice House for their wonderful care of Tom, and us, during his final days. Instead of flowers, Tom's family encourages contributions to either Hospice of North Idaho or the Garden at Orchard Ridge.
Tom's Memorial Mass will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 625 E. Haycraft Avenue in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
To send flowers or a remembrance gift to the family of Thomas Mitchell, please visit our Tribute Store.