Letter to the Editor

Your view: Mentor remembered

Monday, February 21, 2005

In recent days the city of Sikeston and countless individuals have experienced a tremendous loss in the passing of the beloved Bob Mitchell.

It was a crisp November day in 1963 when I arrived at Mitchell Insurance and, moments later, was ushered into an office where I was introduced to a man who would leave an indelible and immeasurable mark for good on my life.

After a brief interview with Bob Mitchell, it was agreed that I would join the team of Mitchell Insurance, where I would serve for more than 12 years - the last four and a half as office manager.

It wasn't long before I began to realize how fortunate I was to be associated with a person of the character of Bob Mitchell. As the years came and went, I never witnessed a business transaction that was not conducted with the highest degree of integrity. This man commanded my deepest respect and complete loyalty and, by his example, instilled in my life values that will remain with me forever. I marveled at the endless giving of himself to his family, his community and his work which, in my mind, came to resemble a mission more than a business enterprise.

In the spring of 1976, I felt the call in my life to enter full-time Christian ministry and presented my resignation. When Mr. Mitchell came to realize the seriousness of my commitment, he gave me his total support.

Leaving the Mitchells and Mitchell Insurance was one of the most difficult decisions of my life, but my new mission was right for me.

Eight years later, I met and married the Rev. Randy Zinn and for 21 years we have served churches in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and currently Oklahoma. Nevertheless, Sikeston has remained home for me, where I have returned time and again to visit my family and, many times, the Mitchells and Mitchell Insurance. In fact, arrangements were made several years ago for Sikeston to be the final resting place for me and my husband.

Calls, cards and visits (though not nearly enough on my part) have kept the Mitchells close at heart during the intervening 29 years. When the call came on the morning of Jan. 30 with the sad news that my mentor had passed away, my whole being just seemed to melt in a deluge of tears of grief and overwhelming gratitude for the positive impact of this extraordinary person in my life.

When my husband and I arrived at the church for the visitation preceding the memorial service and were greeted by the Mitchells, Mrs. Betty directed our attention to a floral arrangement which I had ordered and which had been placed with two others in front of the lectern. Draped across the front of the arrangement was a yellow ribbon simply (and maybe selfishly) proclaiming, "My Boss," and so he forever shall be.

Human greatness in its rarest and best form has passed our way and graced this fair city with a contribution unexcelled. The tears of grief and loss may one day subside, but the man, Bob Mitchell, will never be forgotten.

We love you, Bob Mitchell. We love you, Mrs. Betty, Rob, Sally and your families. We love you, Sikeston - my home.

Melissia McVay Zinn

Dustin, Okla.