GALVESTON — Mayors, university chancellors, college presidents, business owners, food service workers, hotel valets and personal assistants were among the hundreds who gathered to pay last respects to George P. Mitchell on Tuesday.
An overflowing crowd packed the worship cathedral and an outside vestibule of Trinity Episcopal Church for the service.
The Galveston-born entrepreneur and billionaire oil man and developer was remembered as a giving man who always looked for ways to improve life for others.
He was also remembered by his family for his unwavering love and as a man who taught how to act right through his example.
“I do not have memories of my father ever raising his voice at me,” Grant Mitchell, the youngest of Mitchell’s 10 children said during his eulogy. “I don’t have a memory of my father ever disciplining me through punishment.”
Not that Mitchell didn’t have his ways to get through to his children.
“He’d tell me to, ‘act right or I’ll bop you.’”
A pop was nothing more than an affectionate pat on the head, the youngest Mitchell explained.
You learned to act right by following his father’s example, he said.
For all his billions made in the oil business and land development, Mitchell was best remembered for how he treated people who were not on the same economic level as he was.
Daughter Sheridan Mitchell Lorenz read a letter from a food service employee who worked at Mitchell’s historic The Tremont House hotel.
The young employee said he was part of a company mentoring program that Mitchell supported. But he recalled walking down a back hall of the hotel when Mitchell came up from behind on his electric scooter and “honked his horn,” before stopping to shake the man’s hand and thank him for his work.
That moment, he wrote in the letter, “meant the world to me.”
Mitchell’s kindness to all he met was why Lisa Cruz was among those who sat outside the church in high heat and humidity for the hourlong service.
For 15 years, she worked as an executive assistant for Mitchell Historic Properties.
“He was very humble and said hi to everyone,” Cruz said. “I am proud to have worked for him. He did so much for Galveston but was such a genuine man.”
He was just as genuine in his love for his family, Mitchell’s son Scott Mitchell said.
Weekends with the family in Galveston were not discussions about business, rather how to eat crab.
Crab was his favorite food, Scott explained. So much so that when Mitchell arrived at the family house this past Father’s Day, his first words were “Where’s the crab?”
At the table, Mitchell would be in a “crab-trance,” much to the delight of his grandchildren who called him “poo-paw.”
Scott Mitchell recalled earlier family outings on the beaches of Galveston that included Mitchell boiling crabs in a bucket of seawater on a surf-side fire.
Scott Mitchell said the Father’s Day get-together included the family sharing old stories about Galveston, which his father referred to as “the greatest place on Earth.”
Following the church service, the residents of that great place paid public tribute to Mitchell during a ceremony on The Strand, an area Mitchell invested millions to restore and make economically viable.