May 2, 1932 — July 9, 2023
It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our dear father and grandfather, Bill, at 91 years of age. He leaves behind his daughter Kathy and son-in-law Robert (Hay), and his grandchildren, Nicholas (Sara), Sarah (Jake), and Curtis, who will all miss him immeasurably. He was everything to them — friend, role model, cheerleader, editor, resident nature expert, and so much more. He has touched many lives in similar ways. He is predeceased by his wife, Grace, and daughter, Sue.
Born in Toronto, Bill was truly a gentleman and a scholar. He graduated from the University of Toronto (Trinity College) with an Honours B.A. in Modern Languages & Literature, and a Masters of Education. He also held an M.A. in German from Middlebury College, Vermont.
His contributions to education (and, particularly, educational law in Ontario) were significant: he was a beloved teacher in Toronto and Germany; a respected consultant and superintendent for the Ministry of Education and the Metropolitan Toronto School Board; the director of the Ministry of Education’s Legislation Branch; an adjunct professor of educational law at Brock University; and a founder of the Canadian Association for the Practical Study of Law in Education (CAPSLE). The years of his career he cherished most, though, were the ones he spent working closely with the Minister of Education, Dr. Bette Stephenson, as her administrative officer.
Bill’s passions included tending meticulously to his award-winning botanical gardens; spending time up north in “God’s country”; reading literature; writing poetry; studying languages; photographing and videotaping; watching the Toronto Maple Leafs; and last, but certainly not least, spending treasured time with his grandchildren. He will be remembered most for his incomparable selflessness; his immense love for his family; and his appreciation for, and stewardship of, nature. He left an indelible mark on every person he met, treating everyone with his trademark kindness and thoughtfulness. We could all aspire to treat nature, and each other, a little more like he did.
His humble nature was reflected in his last wishes: cremation has taken place and a family service will take place “amongst the trees, rocks, and waterways of which [he was] so fond” at a later date. The family knows, however, that there are many lovely stories (and photos) to share, and urges you to do so in the “tribute wall” section, so that they may reflect on his remarkable life for years to come.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to be made in his honour to Ontario Parks (https://www.ontarioparks.com/donate), which works to protect, and educate about, that which Bill held so dearly. Please indicate that the donation is being made in memory of William Mitchell, so the family will be notified.
We love you and will miss you, beyond words.
But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.
Robert Frost, “A Prayer in Spring”
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.