Robert Earl Mitchell, Navy veteran, retired businessman, beloved father, and a courageous man—who knew himself and made an impression on everyone who met him—passed away on September 6, 2023, entering into rest in Jesus. He battled Parkinson’s disease for 14 years and fought a good fight while navigating a complicated degenerative condition. He is known as “Bob” by friends and those he worked with. He was also called “R.E. or Uncle R.E.” by family and loved ones. His fondest title was father to his only child and daughter, Cynthia, who called him “my Dad.”
Born and raised in Texas, he left the state to enlist in the Navy. His favorite tour was being stationed in Spain and Portugal. He served on several destroyer ships in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, including the USS Stribling, standing watch and escorting their sister ship, the USS Noa, upon retrieving the Friendship 7 capsule with Astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr. Bob received commendations in his navy service, including “outstanding Sailor of the Operations department.” He concluded his honorable naval service in San Diego, California, setting into civilian life.
Bob was a highly intelligent and knowledgeable man who poured himself into college, work, and business. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Management from San Diego State. He was affiliated with Beta Gamma Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi, and Sigma Iota Epsilon honor societies. He continued his higher education by completing a Master of Business Administration from the University of San Diego. He valued education and lifelong learning, especially around solving issues. Bob worked full-time while pursuing his education, which created time crunches around spending time with his wife, Lynn, and daughter, Cynthia. Still, he always had a solid drive to protect and provide for his family, even when he could not be present. He married Lynn Mitchell (nee Wilkins) for twelve years, remaining in contact to co-parent Cynthia. He eventually connected with Lynn on a phone call toward the end of her life, and they both shared that they still had love for one another.
His conservative work ethic and high integrity were well-known among his colleagues. Coworkers noted his character attributes of seeking the truth in fairness and justice. He garnered respect from many, even amidst his critics. Bob retired from a tenured 20-year career spanning TRW, Inc., beginning in its ESL division and continuing into the TRW Space & Defense sector, later acquired by Northrup Grumman Corporation. He held various Director and Division-level positions in Finance, Business, and Operational Administration, capping his career as a Vice President with Titan Systems, Inc., a Titan Corporation subsidiary.
Bob is remembered as one who chronicled his life in terms of practical application. He allowed people to gain insight into who he was by modeling a standard of excellence and insightful understanding through obvious and valuable things that bring success in managing one’s life. He enjoyed mentoring peers and younger professionals by taking them under his wing, instilling in them the need to be distinguished by excellence and the courage necessary to be a strong and forthright leader. TRW recognized his talent and predisposition through the TRW Space & Defense Senior Leadership Program and with training at the Stanford Executive Institute. He exceptionally performed his job with his eye toward perfection and did not care if he was liked. Any task was to be handled well, and it was either “right” or not—and Bob stood for what was right!
Later in life, he found interest in knowing more about his family origin and roots and studied genealogy. He spent years learning and rather enjoyed the challenge of connecting the dots to find documentation and facts that no other person could. In this pursuit, he encountered several deceased family members who fought in or supported the colonies’ independence during the American Revolutionary War. He approached Cynthia about joining the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR). Bob did the research and helped with the application and supporting paperwork to have her confirmed as a member. The Gold Trail Chapter, NSDAR awarded Bob a certificate of recognition for helping her and others to find family information and critical data in submission of their applications into the society. He enthusiastically hung a flag on his door that stated, “Proud father of a daughter of the American Revolution.”
Toward his end-of-life journey, Bob and Cynthia were able to learn more about each other as people, beyond their close relationship as father and daughter and current patient and primary caregiver roles, having many conversations on the topics of life, family, education, personal interests and beliefs, and God. In those meaningful chats, it emerged that Bob had thought about becoming a preacher in his youth but did not pursue that calling or vocation. However, he encouraged his daughter to continue in seminary and was pleased to hear she was pursuing her calling through higher education.
Bob was preceded in death by his older siblings: brother James Edward Mitchell and sisters Donna Faye Komlosky and Josephine Juanita Long, his half-brother Daniel Robert Mitchell, Jr., and his half-sister, Della Mae Mitchell. He is survived by his only child and daughter, Cynthia Leigh Mitchell and son-in-law, William Dale Youngman; his sister-in-law, Janet Mitchell (widow of James E.) and their adult children, James Thomas and Kaitlin Marie; his niece, Donna Elaine “Lene” Porter and his nephew, Preston Porter (adult children of Donna); his brother-in-law, Billy Lee Long, Sr. (widower of Josephine), and their adult children, Billy L. Long, Jr., Julie Roxanne Bullis (nee Long), Donna Lucille Snyder (nee Long), and many nieces and nephews spanning several generations whom most everyone knew him as “Uncle R.E.”
The family requests in place of flowers donations can be made to the Billy Graham Archive and Research Center through the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association giving areas page: https://giving.billygraham.org/billy-graham-archive-and-research-center/.
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