Archie “Butch” Vernon Mitchell, Jr., passed from his earthly bounds, at his home in Delta Junction, Alaska, on Monday, October 22, 2018. At his side was his loving wife, Stormie, and close friend, Mark Duran and caregiver, Sandy Weeks. Butch was born to Archie and Louise Mitchell in Belton, Texas on June 14, 1943.
His family moved to Fairbanks, Alaska in 1952 and he lived the majority of his life in Interior Alaska. He attended Fairbanks schools in his early years and, as a teenager, helped his father, and others, construct the Maclaren River Lodge on the Denali Highway. Butch, never one to “sit around”, also worked summers for Pettijohn, mining gold on the Denali. He also was a small part of the Mt. Si Project. At age 17, he began working with his father as an apprentice ironworker in Fairbanks. He was there during the construction of several buildings in Fairbanks, still standing today.
As he watched the draft numbers proceed to get close to his, in 1963, he voluntarily joined the US Navy and served honorably until 1967. He was stationed on the USS Oak Hill (LSD-7), out of San Diego, as a machinist maintenance sailor. Operating in Vietnam, his ship was responsible for transporting some of the first US military and PT boats to that country at the onset of the conflict. As years went by, Butch harbored a lot of guilt that his ship had transported some of the finest PT Boats and Marines to Vietnam.
After his tour, he returned to Alaska where his parents had purchased the Bay Hotel. He worked there as a handy-man, bartender, and in any other capacity in which his parents needed assistance. When construction on the Trans Alaska Pipeline began, he went to work for Local 942 Laborers, out of Fairbanks. He worked during the entire construction years on multiple sites from Prudhoe Bay to the Valdez Terminal. Butch had an exemplary reputation as a competent and tough worker who always gave 100 percent on all of his activities – to include taking time to explore his home state of Alaska – fishing, hunting and goldmining. He retired from the Laborer’s union at age 50 and set his sights on Delta Junction.
In the process of constructing and repairing his home, he met the love of his life, Stormie. They shared many adventures and frequently traveled around the State. These trips solidified their relationship and love for one another. Butch would tell you that true Alaskan pure love arose and from their many adventures. Stormie was his strength as she was by his side throughout his illness, cancer, which was diagnosed in 2011. Stormie was resilient and strong as she vowed to honor his last wishes to pass away in his home. Butch lived the Alaska dream and many people will truly miss his presence. His Thursday morning breakfast group in Delta will remember him for many years to come. Butch was also a longstanding member of the Pioneers of Alaska, Men’s Igloo #35.
True love in relationships involves admiration, respect and care for one another, with no expectations. Butch and Stormie learned how to trust each other, able to be vulnerable without fear of being hurt. Stormie will tell you that Butch honestly and faithfully showed her true love – with the sincere hope that everyone would have the opportunity to experience this just once in their lives.
Preceded in death were parents, Archie and Louise Mitchell. Survivors include his wife of 18 years, Stormie Mitchell; sister, Kathy Mitchell Hubber of Indianapolis, Ind.; daughter, Stefanie Garma and gransons, Robert and Royce, all of Arizona; step-daughter, Jennie Padgett (Dan Lewis), grandson, Kye Mitchell Lewis (all of Delta Junction); Step-son, Joshua Padgett (Rachel), grandsons Kayden and Conner (Salt Lake City, Utah); stepdaughter, Vickie Shautt (Dana), granddaughter, Leann Shautt; grandson, Jacob Shautt (Katherine) and great-grandson, Jackson Archie Shautt (Fort Bragg, N.C.); Butch’s beloved granddaughter, Laura Fey of Fairbanks; special nephew, Justin Smith, and family of Delta Junction. Very special friend and neighbor, Mark Duran, was such a significant presence in Butch’s final days, providing much assistance and comfort to both Butch and Stormie.
Services will be held at 2 P.M. on Saturday, November 3, 2018 at the Delta Community Center. There will be no graveside service at this time.