In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Harold E. Mitchell, 85

Harold E. Mitchell, 1936-2022
IMB Photo

Harold E. Mitchell, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Tanzania and other African nations and Indian Ocean islands, died April 13, 2022. He was 85.

Mitchell was born Oct. 24, 1936, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, to the late F. Harold and Reba Lee Adams Mitchell. He graduated from Pine Bluff High School, where he developed a love for band and orchestral music, playing the French horn. He did pre-dental studies at Henderson State College (now University), Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and received the Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry in Memphis. In 1958, he married his high school sweetheart Rene Boschetti.

After three years of military service at Fort Dix, New Jersey, he opened a dental practice in Pine Bluff, where he worked for 11 years. Harold wrote when seeking missionary appointment, that he felt compelled while at Fort Dix to volunteer with other men from his church to build a chapel in Puerto Rico. “This was the first time in my life I felt the desire really to do something in the name of the Lord.”

Back in Arkansas, Harold wrote, “God sent many people into our lives to show us what life should be and should not be. After struggling with just how much we should give to God of ourselves, it finally dawned on me that Jesus meant what he said.

“I met others who had made Him Lord and I read of the excitement and peace people said they were experiencing. I gradually decided that I would try to commit my life to God’s will for me. After I became a deacon, my commitment to try to do the Lord’s work deepened.”

It became easy to make a commitment to spend a limited term as a dentist in Botswana.

In preparation for longer missionary service, Harold studied at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

After the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed Harold and Rene as missionaries to Africa, Harold served in several capacities. He conducted bush dental clinics, led the International Baptist Church of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and served as clinical instructor at the Muhimbili Medical Center there. Over the years, he also served in other nations in Africa and the Indian Ocean islands.

After retiring, Harold was pastor of Second Baptist Church in Pine Bluff and associate pastor at East Side Baptist Church. He became involved in the KAIROS prison ministry and served as chaplain at Randall L. Williams Correctional Facility in Pine Bluff. Harold was a life-long member of First Baptist Church, Pine Bluff, where he served as Sunday School teacher, deacon and Boy Scout leader. In recent years he worked with youth at First Baptist, Maumelle, Arkansas, and was a member of the Rock of Ages Sunday School class.

He is survived by Rene, his wife of 64 years; three children, Reade Mitchell (Carla Koen) of Little Rock, Arkansas, Molly Beasley (Jason) of Richmond, Virginia, and Amy Sims (Robert) of Maumelle; four grandchildren; and a sister, Margaret Ann Mitchell Murchison (Rodger) of Augusta, Georgia.

A celebration of life service was held May 18, 2022, at First Baptist Church, Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Donations in his memory may be made to the International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at Generosity Resource Center – IMB Generosity.

Read an obituary here.