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Shelter Island Reporter obituary: Alexander Shaw Mitchell Jr.

Alexander Shaw Mitchell Jr.
Alexander Shaw Mitchell Jr.

Alexander Shaw Mitchell Jr.
Alexander Shaw Mitchell Jr., 76, of Danville, Virginia died Sunday, December 4, 2016 in Greensboro, North Carolina after a long illness.

Alex was born January 8, 1940 to Alexander Shaw Mitchell and Jean Edwards Mitchell of Shelter Island.

He married his beloved Henrietta “Hank” Schoolcraft Sherman on July 15, 1959 on the Island.

Alex discovered his gift of music at the age of 4 when he studied piano with his grandmothers, both church musicians. Alex was himself an accomplished church musician by the age of 13.

He first studied elementary education in college but left after the first year to move to Utica, where he studied music at the Utica Conservatory of Music; played the organ at Calvary Church; and taught piano and organ privately, something he would do throughout his life. After Utica he became the Organist/Choirmaster at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Hampton.

Always looking to hone his musical skills, he and Hank moved to Europe where he studied in Italy, Germany and England. In England, he studied organ and choral conducting at The Royal School of Church Music and eventually received his degree in music at the Royal School of Music in Manchester, England. He then settled in Cornwall where he served as organist/choirmaster of the local parish church.
Returning to the states in the 1980s, he served as organist/choirmaster at churches in New Bern, North Carolina and Eastville, Virginia.

He moved to Danville, Virginia in 1988 where he served several local churches before settling at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany where he was organist/choirmaster for 15 years before retiring in 2010. His retirement was short-lived since he was called to serve First Presbyterian Church in Danville as Director of Music for several years until his health failed.

Alex had also served as the organist/choirmaster at the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

His survived by two aunts, Shirley Mundy of Shelter Island and Esther Mitchell of Lansing, New York; his brother, Ronald Mitchell and family of Shelter Island; one step-grandson, Douglas Charles Hovey; two step great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by his parents, his wife, and one brother, Ricky.

A funeral service will be held on at 1 p.m. on Saturday, January 14 at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church with Father Charles McCarron officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the organ fund at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 26 St. Mary’s Road, Shelter Island, NY 11964.