WATERVILLE — Paul J. Mitchell, longtime Waterville resident, business owner, city alderman and planning board member, and oldest brother of former U.S. Sen. George J. Mitchell died Sunday. He was 92.

Friends and city officials on Tuesday praised Mitchell for his community service over many years and said he will be missed.

“One of the great pleasures I’ve had since becoming mayor was the chance to know Paul,” said Mayor Nick Isgro. “In both his professional life as well as his many years given to public service, Paul defined community leadership and what it means to give back. As a testimony to his life, his children continue that legacy here today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mitchell family at this time of great loss.”

Mitchell owned and was president of GHM Insurance Agency on Main Street with his son, Bill, for many years. As executive director of the Waterville Urban Renewal Authority from 1966 to 1978, Paul Mitchell headed up an urban renewal effort in the city during which time buildings were torn down to make way for The Concourse and houses on the riverfront at Head of Falls were razed.

Bill Mitchell sent out an email from GHM to friends Tuesday morning, notifying them of his father’s death.

“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I tell you that my father, Paul Mitchell, passed away peacefully on Sunday. My father was a great man who was strongly committed to his family, his business and his community. I will miss him deeply as I know many of you will too. I want to thank all of you who have supported my father throughout his life. It is very much appreciated.”

Bill Mitchell said later Tuesday in a phone interview that his father had not been feeling well lately and died in his sleep at 2:45 p.m. Sunday at Lakewood Continuing Care Center in Waterville. He described him as a very happy man who lived life to the fullest.

“He was a great man who loved his family, his business, his community and people,” he said. “I consider myself very fortunate to have had such a great father who was a mentor to me in so many ways. I can’t say how much I appreciate how good my father was to me and my family and he will be greatly missed.”

Bill Mitchell said he has received a steady flow of phone calls, emails and text messages from people all over the country since Sunday, saying what a special, kind, vibrant and well-loved man his father was. One message said, “I treasured your dad’s friendship for over 64 years.”

“Paul Mitchell was a pillar of the community whose life was defined by his deep love for his family and friends, business leadership, and public service,” U.S. Senator Susan Collins posted on Facebook. “Paul made countless contributions to the City of Waterville and the State of Maine, selflessly volunteering his time and talents to improve the community in both public office and through various nonprofit organizations. I have had the pleasure of knowing Paul for many years, and I will miss his kindness, optimism, and enthusiasm. I offer my condolences to his wonderful family.”

Waterville City Manager Michael Roy said Tuesday that Paul Mitchell personified what it means to have community spirit.

“From his early days working with the Urban Renewal Authority to his time on the Planning Board 45 years later, Paul did what he could to make Waterville a great city,” Roy said. “He loved Waterville and will be greatly missed.”

Paul Mitchell grew up in Waterville and graduated in 1944 from Waterville High School where he played football, basketball and baseball and was a member of the famous 1944 basketball team that went undefeated and won the New England Schoolboy Basketball Championship.

He served in the U.S. Navy, was assigned to Bates College and the University of Iowa as a cadet in the Navy’s V-12 flight training program and later completed his education at University of Maine where he earned a Bachelor of Science in 1949, according to his obituary. He then earned a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University in 1950.

In addition to his son, Bill, he is survived by his wife, Yvette, to whom he was married 68 years, and their children, Paul J. Mitchell Jr., Linda Mitchell Price and Jeffrey D. Mitchell. In addition to his brother, George J. Mitchell, he also is survived by his brother John “Swisher” Mitchell and sister, Barbara Atkins, both of Waterville. His brother, Robert, died previously.

Waterville City Planner Ann Beverage, who worked with Paul Mitchell during his more than 20 years on the Planning Board, several as chairman, said Tuesday that “he was a sweetheart.”

“He was always a joy to work with and always the voice of reason,” Beverage said. “When the Board was not in session, he liked to talk about his family and how proud he was of them.”

She said she enjoyed sitting with Mitchell at Waterville Rotary Club meetings, which he attended regularly until about the time he resigned from the Planning Board in 2013.

“He was a Rotarian for many, many years,” she said.

He also served on the Waterville Sewerage District.

Ken Walsh, chief executive officer of the Alfond Youth Center, which comprises the Waterville Area Boys & Girls Club and YMCA, said Paul Mitchell was a longtime board member and supporter of the center, where most recently he served as a member of the Heritage Club and Founders Club which looked at longterm sustainability for the center.

Last summer, Paul Mitchell attended a celebration for the opening of Purnell Wrigley Field in Waterville, where the third base side dugout was named after Mitchell, who was a baseball fanatic, according to Walsh.

“He lived a great life,” he said. “He was a community leader who cared about his family. He really wanted to see Waterville succeed. Obviously, his background was economic development and he played many different roles. He was a part of the fabric of the community in many different ways.”

In 2017, Mitchell was named Citizen of the Year by the city of Waterville. In 2004, then Gov. John Baldacci appointed him to the University of Maine board of trustees.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Saint Joseph Maronite Catholic Church on Front Street. Visiting hours are 4-7 p.m. Thursday at the church.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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