by Sherri R. Martin
January 15, 2016
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:15
Sue Haley Mitchell was called home to glory by Jesus Christ, January 11, 2016.
Sue Mitchell was born to William and Beatrice Haley January 20, 1931 in Durham, North Carolina. She grew up with her sister Betsy in Gibsonville, North Carolina and graduated as valedictorian at Gibsonville High in 1949. Upon graduation, Sue studied at the prestigious Women’s College (now part of the University of North Carolina) in Greensboro, graduating with a degree in art. She proudly wore her college class ring her whole life.
A small town girl and southern belle, she was a world class beauty inside and out. She utterly dazzled one John “Jack” Mitchell, a handsome young professional baseball player from New Jersey. The two married in the summer 1952, and soon had two children, Shawn and Sherri, who adored them without fail and who feel to this day that they were raised by the finest parents God ever created.
In 1962, the Mitchells moved to Florida, eventually settling in Fort Walton Beach. Sue taught fifth grade at the old Fort Walton Elementary and later Elliott Point, retiring in 1987. Her lifelong friends, teachers Marianne Sullivan, Eloise King, Bea Tindol, Rosalyn Hattaway and many others, including a man she considered “the best boss ever,” her principal Ben Bowen, helped make her life professionally and personally rewarding.
Sue’s students loved her dearly. She was an excellent teacher, and inspired many to become teachers themselves. She worked tirelessly to encourage students to become the very best that they could be. Her influence has reached to the ends of the Earth and to every area of life through her countless former students. Part of this was due to the fact that, contrary to modern norms, she read the Bible to her students every day without fail. As one former student said, “My home life was a mess. Mrs. Mitchell’s classroom gave me calm and peace. She nurtured my ten year old soul.”
Indeed, Sue Mitchell nurtured everyone who knew her, her grandchildren most of all, whose lives were forever touched by her love and principled life. She ceaselessly pointed them to the Bible, and her love of Christ was unceasingly the center of her conversations with them. She and their Grandaddy, Jack, poured their lives into their grandchildren’s as few grandparents, or even parents, ever have. She was delighted to live so long as to meet her great-grandchildren as well, and her family is grieved that those little ones will not have her in their lives.
Sue’s love extended to many. She took her son-in-law Rod and daughter-in-law Ann as her own. She took Pat and Helen Tidwell as though they were her own as well, and their children as surrogate grandchildren. She delighted in all the saints at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Valparaiso and especially the members of her ladies’ Bible study: oh how she loved each and every one!
Destin Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center provided Sue with loving care in her final months. She came to love and respect everyone there, as they gave her care above and beyond what anyone could reasonably expect. Their compassion for Sue in her final months provided much joy, both to her and to all her family.
Sue is preceded in death by her parents, her loving husband, and her dear grandson Shawn, Jr. She is survived by her sister Betsy Haley of Niceville; her son Dr. Shawn Mitchell and wife Ann of Niceville, and their children William and wife Joena Mitchell of Tampa, Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell of Portland, Oregon, Tiffany and husband Mike Kostelny of Niceville, and Krystal and husband Eric Barlaan of San Jose, California; her daughter Sherri and husband Rod Martin of Destin, and their children Dolly and husband Jerry Ledzinski of Carmel, California, Dr. Archer Martin and wife Elizabeth of Jacksonville, and Haley Martin of Atlanta, Georgia. She is also survived by her great grandchildren Katherine, Annabelle, Beatrice, Abigail, Joel, Titus and Constance.
Sue’s love for Jesus Christ was a witness to us all, and our greatest consolation is the hope we, too, have in Christ. She will be deeply missed.
Her funeral will be held January 21, 2016 at First Presbyterian Church in Niceville, at 1:00. Internment will follow immediately after at Beal Cemetery in Fort Walton Beach.
— Sherri R. Martin, January 14, 2016