Born on April 28, 1932, just before his twin sister Dorothy on a farm near Walnut, Don was the son of George Robert and Bertha May Eble Mitchell, who preceded him in death.
After a hard-working but loving and fun-filled childhood, Don enlisted in the U.S. Navy in June 1950. He proudly served his country as a machinist mate aboard a destroyer, the U.S.S. Blue, and got to see the world.
At the time of his discharge in 1954, he was a 2nd class petty officer. With the help of the G.I. Bill, Don then enrolled at Kansas State University, where he graduated with a degree in civil engineering in 1959. After graduation, Don moved to California and worked for the State Highway Department.
In 1960, Don convinced a Kansas girl to move to California to be his wife, and he married Betty Ann Gahagan from St. Paul on Jan. 15, 1961. They became the proud parents of two daughters, Karen and Lisa. Don and Betty divorced in 1981 but remained dear friends throughout his life.
In 1990, Don married Genora Ann Carroll, and they shared many happy years during the later years of his life. They also divorced but remained close.
Throughout his life, he lived primarily in the northwest Arkansas area and later in Sallisaw, Okla. He loved Beaver Lake and hosted many family reunions where several dozen nieces and nephews learned to water ski.
He worked as an engineer for several asphalt contractors and then for himself as a water and sewer contractor until his retirement. After retirement, Don was an avid stock investor, tomato and pepper gardener and an occasional golfer. He loved to attend his grandchildren’s games or events and saw his siblings regularly. Later in his retirement, he bought 80 acres near Sallisaw, Okla. Continuing to work every day until his death, he proudly turned a scraggly piece of land into a beautiful home and acreage. Besides working, his main hobbies were watching football, playing dominos with family, “pulling the leg” of anyone who would let him and taking care of his adopted barn cat, Kitty.
He is survived by two daughters, Karen Mitchell Whitehead of The Colony, Texas, and Lisa Mitchell Kramer of Bixby, Okla. He loved his three grandchildren, Matthew Mitchell, Katherine and Grace Kramer; and two stepgrandchildren, Ashlee Dawn Whitehead and Joshua Ray Haviland. He is also survived by immediate family, Bruce Whitehead, Rodney Kramer, Betty Mitchell and Ann Carroll. He is survived by two sisters, Dorothy Ricketts and Clara Jackson; a brother, Bill Mitchell; and many nieces and nephews.
The service will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Erie Federated Church. Burial, with military honors, will follow at Walnut Cemetery. The family will receive friends in the parlor of Federated Church from 10 a.m. until service time. Pierce-Carson-Wall Funeral Home of Erie is in charge of arrangements.
Memorials are suggested to the Walnut Cemetery maintenance fund or the Proud Animal Lovers Shelter in Parsons and may be left at or mailed to the funeral home, P.O. Box 182, Erie, 66733.
Online condolences may be left at www.wallfuneralservices.com.