Pete Mitchell, 63, Red Cross volunteer

Pete Mitchell, 63, Red Cross volunteer

By J.E. GESHWILER
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

mitchell0730Atlanta Red Cross
Pete Mitchell drove a donated Humvee
to carry relief supplies to victims
of a 1998 tornado in northeast Georgia.

As a Red Cross volunteer par excellence, Pete Mitchell handled disaster relief with the energy, determination and preparation that a military officer might give to a combat assault.

That was only natural, since he had been an Army captain in the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles” Division during the war in Vietnam and even earned a Silver Star for valor there.
“Pete’s military can-do attitude made the impossible possible,” said Sandra Hallen of Marietta, a Red Cross service center director.


Mr. Mitchell became a Red Cross volunteer in 1985 when, as a Boy Scout district chairman for Cobb County, he took part in a disaster training session.

Once committed, he plunged head-first into disaster relief. As he told the Journal-Constitution in a 1994 interview, “I’ve seen a lot of people unnecessarily hurt because of a lack of planning, and I wanted to do something about it.”

His principal duty was supervising the Red Cross Disaster Field Services Center at Fort Gillem, keeping it stocked with relief supplies and coordinating their prompt shipment during emergencies.

“It seemed as if every time there was a disaster, I would see TV news footage of Pete driving a forklift getting food and blankets ready to be shipped to the scene,” said a friend, Bob Hopkins of Dunwoody.

As a captain of his local Red Cross Disaster Action Team, he often was the first to respond to storm and fire emergencies in Cobb, Douglas, Paulding and Cherokee counties, said Sherry Nicholson of Duluth, a Red Cross spokeswoman.

In 1995, the Metropolitan Atlanta chapter named Mr. Mitchell its volunteer of the year “for his overwhelming commitment to humanitarian service.”

The funeral for Mr. Mitchell, 63, of Marietta is 2 p.m. today at Mount Zion United Methodist Church. He died Saturday of a heart attack while dining at a local restaurant. H.M. Patterson & Son, Canton Hill, is in charge of arrangements.

Mr. Mitchell was a financial adviser, first with CIGNA, then as an independent affiliated with the Dunwoody Brokerage Service. “His clients stayed with him for years and even referred their children to him,” said his wife, Ellen Mitchell.

“Pete was a pioneer in building the Cobb County Republican Party in the early 1970s,” his wife said. “He would throw barbecue fund-raisers and walk the neighborhoods drumming up support for Johnny Isakson, Newt Gingrich and other Republican candidates.”

Survivors include a daughter, Lori Kelleher of Charleston, S.C.; a son, Robert Mitchell of Atlanta; a stepdaughter, Amy Miller of Rayville, Mo.; a stepson, Maj. Steven Hawkins of West Point, N.Y., and five grandchildren.