Donald Waldo Mitchell
January 22, 1939 – November 1, 2023
Don will be remembered for his unfailing capacity to enjoy life on all levels. He had a lifelong curiosity and love of learning, whether through conversations with others who had fewer opportunities than he had, reading about current events shaping the world around us (reading fiction – not so much), or traveling the world – pretty much literally – to learn about new places and peoples. But Don also did not take himself too seriously. Countless friends and acquaintances will remember him for his levity – who could forget his bottomless reserve of timely puns and ultimate Dad jokes? He was also known for his sweetness towards others, always offering a helping hand or lending a sympathetic ear to others – usually with a warm smile or twinkle in his eye. Always on the move or otherwise keeping busy, Don loved the outdoors, whether spearheading weeklong family backpacking trips in inclement weather in the Olympics, returning regularly to hike with extended family in the Sierra Nevada mountains, or simply enjoying his daily walking circuit in downtown Seattle.
Donald Waldo Mitchell was born in Berkeley California in 1939 to Bernice and John Mitchell. He lived most of this early life in Palo Alto, California, save for about three years during World War II. After graduating from Palo Alto High School and Stanford University, he began his medical school studies at Harvard University. During his time at Harvard, he went on a blind date with his future wife Pam, whom he married in 1966 in Richland, WA. As part of his medical training, Don was a medical resident at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, WA (1964-1966). This was followed by a series of travels while he was in the U.S. Public Health Service, including Wisconsin, India, Thailand, Ethiopia and Atlanta, where their first son, Robert, was born. They returned to Seattle in 1969, where Don returned to his medical residency in pulmonary medicine, and they spent the rest of their lives based in Seattle, where his other sons, Ken and Andrew, were born. Don entered private practice in Renton, WA, with Dr. San Lwai in a group that became Valley Internal Medicine. Don retired from medical practice in January 2000. He entered a new chapter of his life as a volunteer for groups like Habitat for Humanity, Physicians for a National Health Program, Seattle Public Schools’ classroom aide program, as well as many roles with Plymouth Congregational Church’s service organizations. In 2017, Don and Pam moved into a continuing care community, Horizon House. Not long after, Don was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and he was an active peer mentor at Harborview’s Memory and Brain Wellness Center.
Don died at Harborview on November 1, 2023, the same place where he started his medical career nearly 60 years earlier. He is survived by Pam, his wife of 57 years, his brother John, sister Sarah Clark, sons Robert (Inga), Kenneth (Molly), Andrew (April) and 4 grandchildren (Lila, Owen, Kaia, and Nankea).
I worked with Dr Mitchell at Valley Medical Center where I was a critical care nurse. He was always respectful of the nursing staff and would always end his orders with " Thank you"
He was always willing to take time to answer questions and had a great sense of humor.
First, I was so fortunate to have Pam as my UW faculty advisor for my MN, and then to work at Valley with Dr. Mitchell. To each patient, he brought not only incredible medical astuteness but also incredible caring for the individual.