In Memoriam: Henry W. Mitchell (1946-2021)

Posted on August 30th, 2021 at 1:41 PM
In Memoriam: Henry W. Mitchell (1946-2021)

Henry W. Mitchell, a former member of the Lycoming Law Association, died on April 24, 2021. A memorial session of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County took place on August 30, 2021.


Henry W. "Hank" Mitchell, 75, of Milton, died Saturday, April 24, 2021, at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville.

He was born Feb. 21, 1946, in Williamsport, the son of the late Percy David Sr. "P.D." and Amelia (Ellison) Mitchell.

On July 15, 1978, Hank married the love of his life, Rebekah J. (Ward), who survives and they celebrated 44 years of marriage together last year.

Hank was a graduate of Williamsport High School Class of 1964. After high school he went on and attended Lycoming County College and then attended the University of Toledo where he earned his legal degree. Hank was the assistant district attorney for Lycoming County for several years and then went on to have his own law practice, Henry W. Mitchell, Esq., retiring in 2014.

He was a member of Revival Tabernacle Church, Watsontown in which he was the head elder for many years. Hank was proud to be a member of the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity. He enjoyed singing and music but he loved football and basketball.

In addition to his wife, Rebekah, Hank is survived by one son, Tai B. Mitchell of Milton; one daughter and son-in-law, Shannon L. and Jesse Sprague of Adams, Tenn.; four grandchildren, Evan, Armani, Devante and Nola; two brothers and one sister-in-law, Percy Jr. and Laurie Mitchell of Dayton, Ohio and George Mitchell of Williamsport; one sister, Brenda Mitchell of Williamsport; along with numerous nieces and nephews including, Percy Mitchell III, Nathan Mitchell, Nancy Mitchell, Tiffany Fordyce, Amber Mitchell, Brenda Mitchell and Toni Mitchell.

A viewing for Hank will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 2, at Revival Tabernacle Church, 960 Susquehanna Trail, Watsontown, followed by the funeral at 4 p.m. with his pastor James Bond officiating.

Arrangements are being handled by Dale Ranck Cremation & Funeral Care, 125 N. Front St., Milton.

Memorial Court Session

  Watch the memorial session of the Lycoming County Court of Common Pleas, August 30, 2021.

  Read the transcript of the memorial session


Memorial Resolution



 NO. 21-0004



The Honorable Judge Nancy L. Butts, President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, 29th Judicial District, by Order dated May 28, 2021, appointed the undersigned Committee to draft Resolutions memorializing the Life of Henry W. Mitchell, Esquire and to submit same to this Honorable Court at a session of Court scheduled August 30, 2021. The Report and Resolutions of this Committee will now be submitted to the Court as follows:

  1. Henry W. Mitchell, commonly referred to as Hank by his family, friends and colleagues, was born on February 21, 1946 In Williamsport to Percy David "P.O." Mitchell, Sr. and Amelia {Ellison) Mitchell.
  2. Hank has two brothers, Percy D. Mitchell, Jr., of Dayton, Ohio; and George Mitchell of Williamsport; and a sister, Brenda Mitchell of Williamsport.
  3. Hank married the love of his life, Rebekah J. {Ward) Mitchell, with whom he celebrated nearly 43 years of marriage.
  4. Hank is survived by his siblings and his wife; a son, Tai B. Mitchell, of Milton; a daughter, Shannon L. Sprague of Tennessee; and four grandchildren, Evan, Armani, Devante, and Nola.
  5. Hank is also survived by beloved nieces and nephews, including Percy Mitchell, Ill, Nathan Mitchell, Nancy Mitchell, Tiffany Fordyce, Amber Mitchell, Brenda Mitchell, and Toni Mitchell.
  6. Hank graduated from Williamsport High School in 1964, where he, along with his brother, played football.
  7. He graduated from Lycoming College in 1968, and matriculated to the University Of Toledo College Of Law, where he earned his law degree in 1972.
  8. Hank practiced law with Pierce County Legal Services in Tacoma, Washington from 1972 to 1973; he then moved to Harrisburg where he worked for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission until 1974; thereafter, he worked as an Assistant Attorney General for three years; from 1977 he practiced law at Stone, Mitchell and Mitchell in Harrisburg until 1985 when he returned to Williamsport.
  9. Upon returning to Williamsport, Hank privately practiced law and accepted a position as a conflict attorney for the Lycoming County Public Defender's Office; he also served as law clerk to the Honorable Judge Thomas C. Raup.
  10. Hank represented the Commonwealth in Juvenile Court in Lycoming County from 1998 until 2002, at which time he accepted a position as a full-time Assistant District Attorney; he served in that capacity until 2010, leaving forthe private practice of law.
  11. During his years practicing law in Lycoming County, Hank frequently gave up his lunch hours to engage with the local judges and attorneys in basketball games; those participants did not "play;" they were serious competitors. His love of sports originated with his father, who played professional baseball and football in the Negro Leagues.
  12. After leaving the District Attorney's Office, Hank was the Executive Director of the Board of Directors for The Center, originally known as the Bethune-Douglass Recreational Center ("BD"). His father served as Director at "BD" for 33 years after moving from North Carolina in 1943. Hank was proud of his heritage and included in a resume that his father and mother were teachers in North Carolina but were forced from their home by the Ku Klux Klan because his father permitted white and black children to play together at school.
  13. As the Center's Director, Hank provided leadership over an ever-open food bank and after-school programs for youth encouraging both education and recreation, and he inspired general community involvement and safety. Hank had grown up in "BD" and considered it a "safe house" for all races where he learned compassion and respect. Prior to his Directorship, Hank spent many years on its Board of Directors.
  14. In 1958, Hank's family hosted the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King when he visited Williamsport.
  15. Hank was a Deacon at Revival Tabernacle Church and enjoyed a close friendship with his Pastor.
  16. In his final days, Hank's body failed him, but his mind remained committed and strong; he enjoyed luncheons with former judges and colleagues and his family and church.
  17. Hank was raised by parents dedicated to service to and concern for community. Hank carried on his father's quest for racial equality and fairness with finesse.
  18. Since Hank's death, in admiration for his father's path, Hank's son Tai has expressed a desire to pursue law as a career.
  19. Henry Mitchell was a gentleman, a kind soul dedicated to justice, who never held a grudge.

AND NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that as a result of the passing of Henry W. Mitchell, the Bar of Lycoming County has lost a member who exemplified the traditions that the legal profession should emulate; his pursuit of fairness, equity, and inclusivity will be greatly missed.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we, the undersigned, joined by the Lycoming County Bar, do recognize and mourn the passing of Henry W. Mitchell, Esquire.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that these resolutions be spread upon the Minutes of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County and be published in the Lycoming Reporter.

FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that this Court and Committee and the entirety ofthe Lycoming County Bar extend to his family our deepest and heartfelt expressions of sympathy.

Respectfully Submitted,
Nicole J. Spring, Esquire, Chairperson
Ryan C. Gardner, Esquire
Judge Kenneth D. Brown
Judge Dudley N. Anderson
Michael Collins, Esquire
Michael Dinges, Esquire