William Jerome Mitchell (1935-2019)
1935 - 2019 Dr. William Jerome Mitchell, retired University of Georgia Professor of English, died Saturday, November 23, 2019, in Clarksville, Tennessee. He was 84 years of age.
Born in Chattanooga, TN, on October 7, 1935, Mitchell was the son of the late Emerson Lee and Marie D. Mitchell, of Chattanooga. He attended the Baylor School of Chattanooga, graduating as Valedictorian in 1953, but his special talents were in music. He studied piano under Harold Cadek and music theory under Werner Wolff. While in high school he performed frequently in concerts in and around Chattanooga. Twice he was guest piano soloist with the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra. After Baylor, he spent a year at the Eastman School of Music, taking weekly piano lessons from Cecile Genhart. Then he change direction and transferred to Emory, where he majored in English and minored in German. He was awarded the B.A, degree in 1957, having spent the summer of 1956 at Harvard, studying Chaucer's Canterbury Tales under professor B.J. Whiting. Mitchell did graduate work in English literature at Duke and the University of Bonn, in Germany. He was awarded an M.A. from Duke in 1959 and the Ph.D in 1965. He then spent two years as assistant professor at the University of Illinois before coming to Georgia in 1967 as associate Professor. He was promoted to full professor in 1972, and he was in the classroom every year thereafter, teaching an array of courses, until he retired in 1997. He took leaves of absence in the 1970s to accept guest appointments in Germany Universities: Bonn, Erlangen and Regensburg. He fell in love with Regensburg and returned there in later years for extended visits. As a teacher, Mitchell was best known to students for his courses in Chaucer, which he taught on every level. Medieval English literature was his specialty. His publications on the poet Thomas Hoccleve, a follower of Chaucer, received much recognition. But he is probably most widely appreciated for his work on Sir Walter Scott, especially his two pioneering books about operas based on Scott's poems and novels. Shortly after he retired, he gave all the material he had collected for forty years on Scott and opera to the National Library of the University of South Carolina, where they are now part of a special collection dealing with Scotland. Mitchell is survived by his brother and sister-in-law, John Lee and Cornelia Cunningham Mitchell, of Clarksville, Tennessee, and their children and grandchildren. He left behind a vast collection of classical and operatic LPs and early 78 RPM records. Mitchell requested that there be no formal funeral or memorial service. His remains will be cremated.
Published in Athens Banner-Herald from Nov. 25 to Nov. 26, 2019