Eastport - James Roland Mitchell, Jr; age 90, died peacefully at home February 5, 2022, surrounded by his loving family. Known by most as “Roland”, “Brother” or “Mitch” he was born in the family home at 9 Leavitt Avenue, Eastport, Maine on June 29, 1931 to James R. Mitchell Sr and Mary (MacDonald) Mitchell. He was born in an era when young boys made mischief by borrowing dinghies from fishing boats tied up along the Eastport waterfront for a quick row about the bay while their captains visited the numerous downtown eateries and watering holes. One of his favorite stories described how he and a boyhood friend enjoyed doing this…. until eventually one of the boat captains returned earlier than expected and doled out a disciplinary action which convinced them to never do it again.
He experienced heartbreak early in life. When he was 13 his father died of accidental drowning off Chocolate Cove, Deer Island, New Brunswick and at age 17 his mother died from cancer. At age 25 he lost his first-born child (Keith R. Mitchell) to childhood cancer.
After graduating from Shead High School in 1949 he enlisted in the US Marine Corps and served in combat in the Korean War, returning home to Eastport with a Bronze Star for Valor and a Purple Heart. Once back in Eastport he married Frances Katherine Colwell and embarked on a long career with the US Postal Service, eventually advancing from letter carrier to postmaster. He was a proud and humble veteran, never willingly missing attending a Memorial or Veteran’s Day observance dressed in his original Marine Corp uniform. His final job was likely his most favorite - in retirement he became a part-time school bus driver taking the local children to school, competitions, athletic events, and various other local community groups and activities.
He was quick to make friends and converse with virtually anybody. This connection, with so many, started with a warm smile, his outreached hand and firm handshake. He embraced community service and participated in numerous social and civic activities, rising to high levels of leadership in several… the Knights of Pythias fraternal organization; local, state and national school board involvement; he served as scoutmaster for Eastport Boy Scout Troop 121. He was heavily involved in Eastport’s annual 4th of July celebration, initially as leader of the blueberry pie eating contest and eventually as chairman responsible for overseeing all of the event activities, often referred to as “Mr. 4th of July”.
He was also a graceful dancer, distinguished rifle & pistol sharpshooter as a member of the State of Maine Team competing in the national matches at Camp Perry, Ohio; master bowler on state championship teams, and according to his childhood friend John Beckett, “the best pool player he had ever seen.”
He was predeceased by his parents, and four older sisters (Ruth Lord, Helen Moore, Mary Lou Murphy, and Geraldine Kendall); and an infant son Keith R. Mitchell. He is survived by his younger brother Charles (and wife Joanne) Mitchell of Eastport and Florida, wife Frances of Eastport with whom he raised five children: James Roland the 3rd (and wife Sherie) of Perry, ME; David A. (and partner Lynne) of Charlotte, ME; Glenn E. (and wife Ruth) of Dothan, AL; Dana E. (and wife Lynn) of Sipayik in Perry, ME; and Betsy J. of Portland, OR. He also graced the earth with two additional children Nancy Carney (and husband Scott) of Charlotte, ME; and Tony McKim (and wife Wendy) of Trenton, ME; and many beloved Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren.
The family would like to extend thanks for the support the VA Health System provided which allowed Mitch to remain in his home with his family until his passing. We would also like to extend a very special thank you to Mitch and Fran’s niece Eileen Dougherty for her selfless love and care on a daily basis for her Uncle Mitch.
A Celebration of James' Life will be held 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 29, 2022 at the Shead High School gymnasium. Burial will take place at Acadia National Cemetery. Arrangements by Mays Funeral Home, Calais & Eastport. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.MaysFuneralHome.com