Joe L. Mitchell, a retired Westinghouse Electric Corp. engineer and marketing program manager who enjoyed roaming the world and listening to classical music, died Feb. 6 from complications of dementia at Roland Park Place. The former longtime Poplar Hill resident was 93.
Joe Lee Mitchell, who was born and raised in Forest, Miss., was the son of Harry Luther Mitchell, a Bienville Lumber Co. executive, and his wife, Corrie Lee McKenzie, a homemaker.
While attending elementary school in Forest, he met his future wife, the former Elizabeth “Betty” Thompson, on the school playground when they were 5 years old.They married in 1948.
After graduating from Forest High School, he enrolled at the Georgia Institute of Technology, from which he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1946.
While at Georgia Tech, he was a member of the Navy Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and after graduation was commissioned an ensign.
While in the Navy, he earned a second bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 1947 to 1949, he served aboard the heavy cruiser USS Albany, until being discharged in 1950.
Mr. Mitchell then moved to Baltimore and went to work for Westinghouse, which was located at the old Friendship Airport, now Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, in Linthicum.
At Westinghouse, as marketing program manager for tactical ground radars, he traveled extensively throughout the world, from South America to the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, Australia and throughout Europe.
“Dad’s travels were frequent and extensive. At times, it seemed like he was abroad more often than home,” his son, Charles “Chuck” Mitchell of Stoneleigh, wrote in a biographical profile of his father.
“While traveling, he loved to immerse himself in the culture of the countries he was visiting. He particularly enjoyed the national symphonies and opera companies of Europe, walking through the souks and bazaars of the Middle East, and he had a well-won reputation among colleagues for discovering the best local food and wines,” he wrote.
“He always won his bids,” family members said.
He retired in 1990.
Mr. Mitchell and his late friend, Jim Currie, together built both of their houses in the Poplar Hill neighborhood of North Roland Park, and for the next 49 years, he enjoyed home improvement projects and planting extensive gardens throughout the grounds, which he filled with azaleas and rhododendrons “which brought a splendid and colorful delight to the neighborhood each spring,” his son said.
A lover of music, Mr. Mitchell, who played the clarinet and had been a drum major at Georgia Tech, shared his enthusiasm for music and the arts with his family.
He held season tickets to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Opera Company, Chamber Music Society of Maryland and Center Stage. He also regularly attended operatic and ballet performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington.
Mr. Mitchell was also a season ticket holder to the Baltimore Colts and later the Baltimore Stars and Stallions to support the return of an NFL team to Baltimore. He also attended all Ravens home games until his health began to fail.
“Some of my best memories are of sitting high in the bleachers of Memorial Stadium with my Dad watching legends like Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore and Raymond Barry playing our archrival Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears,” his son wrote.
“I will never forget being by his side for Johnny Unitas’ last game when we looked up to see a plane overhead trailing the ‘Unitas We Stand’ banner and then looking down on the field where Unitas miraculously picked that moment to throw his final touchdown pass as a Baltimore Colt,” he wrote.
In recent years, he had lived at Roland Park Place.
His wife of 69 years died in 2017.
Mr. Mitchell was a communicant and usher for 36 years at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Roland Park, where funeral services were held Feb. 16.
In addition to his son, Mr. Mitchell is survived by two daughters, Melissa Pitts of Baltimore and Elizabeth Henkin of Lanham; 12 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.