Tony Mitchell, 1939 to 2021

My brother, Anthony John Mitchell, has died in Brisbane while in palliative care from cancer. He was 81.

Tony was born on 22 August, 1939, one of four boys whose parents were Jim and Lucy Mitchell. Before their marriage, Lucy Gladys Wilesmith was a member of a pioneering family from the Herberton area of far North Queensland.

Tony was Jim and Lucy’s third son. The eldest is James Gilbert Mitchell, I am the third son, and the youngest is Jeffrey Bernard Mitchell, born in 1943.

In the final years of his life, Tony took up painting and had a fine collection of accomplished work. Visitors were astonished that he was untrained and yet painted so well. He could write too, and was thrilled every time one of articles – or Letters to the Editor – was published. In earlier times he cultivated bonsai with a magical touch and created beautiful gardens out of arid-looking sand and stones.

Tony was a kindly man but life did not return the favour. Indeed, many times it was cruel. He was pre-deceased by not one, not two, but three of his daughters – Helen, Clare and Katie. No parent should have to attend the funerals of their children but he was stoic and gained strength from his personal philosophy and innate goodness.

A couple of weeks ago the four Mitchell boys and their partners held a re-union lunch in Brisbane on 23 May 2021. It was at the home of John and Toni Ware and their three children. (Toni, aka Antionette, is one of Tony’s surviving daughters). It was the last time that I saw him and I am left with memories and dozens of questions that I had wanted to ask.

Tony was a good man and a lovely man … and, I believe, in his own way, he was a great man.

One comment

  1. An only boy with two younger sisters, I appreciate Alex Mitchell’s lament for his dead brother. During my lifetime, I found five brothers – Bob Wilson, former mayor of Shoalhaven, who I nearly died with at sea 20 years ago; Roger Black, from my hometown of Leeton and mates since we were four; Sam Chidiac, a generous, caring Australian Lebanese migrant whose wife ran off with a Labor MLC; the late Bill Owens, founding editor with wife, Louise Denver, of the English-language Gulf Daily News, in Bahrain, and a pure Scot to match my Scottish paternal side of the family; and late legend of the Sydney Sun’s “Hotline”, Paul Nicholson, my first mentor in Sydney! From each I drew the familiarity that blood kin have, and I appreciate Alex’s review to remind me of the strengths I gained from my “phantom” family.

    Michael Ross (ex-National Times)

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