WEEMS—Wilbur E. “Bill” Mitchell Jr. passed away peacefully at home early Sunday morning, January 30, 2022.
He is survived by his wife, Jane; two sons, Aaron Young (Crysta) and Matthew Mitchell (Grace); grandson, James Young; brother, Jack Austin (Dayna); sister, Barbara Martin (David); stepsisters, Jackie Southworth and Jane Boone (Jim); brother-in-law, Charles Haydon (Susan); and his best friend throughout his life, Howard Rock. His nephews and nieces include Trae and Wyatt Shepherd, Jeff and Rodney Dwyer, Kelsey and Lauren Haydon, Gregory Martin and Will Riley.
Bill was born to Wilbur and Margaret Mitchell on December 14, 1948, and grew up on The Lane in Irvington. He graduated from Lancaster High School, attended Bluefield College and later Smithdeal Massey Business School in Richmond.
He returned to the area and spent an incredible 10 years living at Wharton Grove with his best friend, Howard. The awesome stories of that era live on with the group of friends who were frequent visitors to their cottage and known as the Wharton Grove gang.
Bill worked at several businesses locally—The Tides Inn, Standard Products and Lamberth’s, and Weather or Naut—and began making and painting signs part-time in 1977 before settling full-time into his own custom sign business, Mitchell’s Signs, in the little shop we lovingly refer to as the “sign factory” in Irvington. He was committed to his livelihood and sometimes worked seven days a week, especially if a project was challenging and bringing him joy. His custom designed signs can be seen on many businesses and at the end of many driveways locally. He was a perfectionist and an incredible artist who took pride in each and every creation he made for his customers.
Bill gave to the community his entire life through various venues. He was a member of The Lancaster Players and participated in theater productions either acting or singing in musicals. He sang all his life; a madrigal group in high school, multiple choral groups in the community offering holiday music and the church choir at Grace Church in Kilmarnock. He was a member of the Irvington Town Council. He was involved in scouting for both of his sons and coached their baseball teams from T-Ball through Little League. He was a member of the Kilmarnock Volunteer Fire Department for years and served as treasurer of the KVFD carnival for many years. Bill was a lifetime member of Grace Church and participated in the vestry, a lay reader and member of the choir.
Bill lived a good life and through his life touched many people. He was a friend to all and a stranger to no one. He could strike up a conversation with anyone and his sense of humor was quite evident. His stature could be intimidating but he was a gentle man underneath. If he gave his word, he lived up to it. If he made a promise, he kept it. He was dependable. He was a good father and brought up two fine sons to mirror the life he led and carry on the traits of fairness, kindness, generosity and strength. We were fortunate to call him husband, father, brother, uncle and friend and we were blessed to share this life with him. He will be missed.
Visitation will be held from 5-7 p.m. Saturday, February 12, at the Currie Funeral Home. Funeral services will take place at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, February 13, at Grace Episcopal Church in Kilmarnock.
Memorial donations can be made to the Bill Mitchell Memorial Fund, Irvington Virginia Business Association (IVBA), P.O. Box 456, Irvington, VA 22480. Donations will be used to help small businesses.