Paul Mitchell Sr., 84, Philadelphia public-school teacher

Posted: March 25, 2014

WAS IT A DREAM? Was that really Marilyn Monroe climbing out of a tank that day in Korea?

Paul Mitchell had just completed a road race and could have been forgiven for hallucinating. But Marilyn Monroe!

Yes, it really was Marilyn, wearing a purple sequined dress, in Korea to entertain the troops.

The sight was certainly one of the more rewarding prizes Paul Mitchell received in a lifetime of running. Usually, you wind up with a ribbon, a plaque or, sometimes, a medal. But the sight of a beautiful movie star topped them all.

Paul Mitchell Sr., a Philadelphia public-school teacher for 30 years, an Army veteran of the Korean War, a dedicated runner who completed his last marathon at age 76 in Hawaii, an artist, a devoted churchman and a family patriarch, died of heart failure March 12. He was 84 and lived in Norristown.

Born and raised in South Philadelphia, Paul began teaching after serving with the 224th Infantry Regiment in Korea, where he attained the rank of sergeant.

He taught at Bache-Martin and Childs Elementary Schools before retiring in 1996.

"He loved teaching," said his daughter, Janine Mitchell. "He was very kind and compassionate. He had a phenomenal memory for names, which endeared him to his students and everyone else he met."

Paul graduated from South Philadelphia High School and received a bachelor's degree and master's in special education from Cheyney State University.

A devoted athlete all his life, Paul completed five marathons, including the last one in Kona, Hawaii.

After he retired, he lived for a time in Hilton Head, S.C., where he would put in 40 to 50 miles of training a week in preparation for his long races.

Paul was a skilled tennis player who won trophies and medals. He also studied the martial arts tai chi and karate.

Paul was an active member of Shiloh Baptist Church and Pinn Memorial Baptist Church. He lent his powerful bass to spiritual songs on the Sanctuary and Gospel Choirs.

"I remember once when he started to sing, the women in the church just swooned," his daughter said.

Paul was also a gifted artist. He painted and drew more than 50 paintings. He won the Golden Palette Award for the most original and creative painting from the Hilton Head Plantation Artists Association.

He was an avid reader, especially the Westerns of the writer Louis L'Amour. His large collection of books will be donated to the library of Cheltenham High School, which his grandsons attend.

"He was a man's man," his daughter said, "a real alpha male. He had an incredible spirit."

Paul was married for 20 years to the late Julie Mae Woodlin Moore-Mitchell. Besides his daughter, he is survived by two sons, Paul Mitchell Jr. and Mark Mitchell; stepchildren Kevin Moore, Lloyd Moore, Janis Moore and Kristina Moore Gilbert; a sister, Lucy Cannon; and 13 grandchildren.

Services: Were Friday. Burial was in Rolling Green Memorial Park, West Chester.

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