Earl Mitchell Jr.

BOWDOIN – Earl Mitchell Jr., 73, of Bowdoin died Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, at Midcoast Hospital from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mitch was born in Portland on Sept. 28, 1948, the son of Earl and Myra Leigh (Kennedy) Mitchell of Freeport. He spent his early years on the family farm and attended local schools, graduating in 1966. He loved the history of Freeport and was involved in many activities with the local historical society. Later in life, he collaborated with family members on a family tree that grew to include farmers, witches, Mayflower descendants, and Maine sea captains.

A talented artist, he graduated from Paier College of Art in New Haven, Conn., where he received national recognition for his talent as a water colorist. His paintings have been exhibited in galleries throughout Maine. The walls of his home are covered with paintings, both his own and those of others, and his second-floor studio was always filled with his ongoing work. Many of his paintings are seascapes, a reflection of a period in his life he spent lobstering with John Coffin of Freeport.

As a teenager, Mitch developed a love of farming and of horses. He helped milk cows on the Estes Farm in Freeport and learned to care for horses when he worked at a summer camp. During this time, he also grew so fond of the banjo that he decided to build his own and master at least one song (Dueling Banjos).

In 1978, following his marriage to Patricia Maloney, he bought a small run-down farm in Bowdoin. In addition to revitalizing the homestead, he shared his knowledge, mentoring many young people interested in agriculture. He is well-known for the farm and woods work he did with his draft horses, Dick and Doc.

In addition to his work as a farmer, Mitch ran a carpentry and timber-framing business and expanded the farm to include a maple syrup operation. In 1988 he met his second wife, Penelope Savage, and together Mitch and Penny built a new house and barn, while tapping as many as 700 trees to produce around 150 gallons of syrup each spring. They were a familiar sight at local farmer’s markets, at the Common Ground Fair, and on Maine Maple Sunday. Eventually Penny’s illness made it impossible to continue the maple business, but Mitch continued to work the farm. A few days before his death, he was on out on the tractor, tending to his hayfields.

Mitch cared for his beloved wife Penny until her death from Alzheimer’s disease in June of 2021. He was also preceded in death by his parents; his stepson, Lars Savage; and his nephew, Nathan Mitchell.

Survivors include his son, Caleb and his wife, Erin Reome, of Portland, Ore., his son, Luke and his wife Dr. Julie (Adamczyk) Mitchell of Cambridge, Mass.; his brother, James Mitchell, of Freeport, his sister, Marion Mitchell, of St. George; his father-in-law, David Compton, of Bowdoinham; his daughter-in-law, Robin Havens, of San Francisco; his brother-in-law, Toby Savage, of Jackson, N.H.; and five grandchildren, Grant, Marlowe, and Cole Mitchell, of Cambridge, Mass. and Forrest and Mae Mitchell, of Portland.

A celebration of Mitch’s life will be held in the spring. Inquiries can be directed to his son, Luke, at [email protected].

Donations in Mitch’s name may be made to:

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA)

P.O. Box 170

Unity, ME 04988

or online: http://www.mofga.org

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