Federal Way icon Sam Mitchell dies | Memorial service Dec. 17

Sam Mitchell - Courtesy photo
Sam Mitchell
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Sam Mitchell, a longtime educator, coach and volunteer in Federal Way, died Dec. 8 at age 80.

Mitchell was the husband of the late State Rep. Maryann Mitchell, who died Dec. 28, 2002. They were married 35 years. Mitchell and his wife played a key role in helping Federal Way incorporate as a city in 1990.

Mitchell was born July 3, 1930, in Newark, N.J. He was a star athlete at Westfield High School and earned a sports scholarship at the University of Washington. From 1949 to 1953, Mitchell played football, baseball and basketball for the Huskies. Mitchell spent three years as quarterback for the UW football team and was the main starter in 1951. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies to play baseball, but an injury ended his stint in professional sports.

Mitchell began his teaching career in Toppenish, Wash., in 1955 before coming to Federal Way High School in 1960. Mitchell taught biology and science for nearly 40 years in Federal Way, mostly at Thomas Jefferson High School. He was well known as a football, basketball and softball coach.

Mitchell was active in coaching girls sports throughout the 1960s and 1970s, said daughter Laura Ladabour of Puyallup. He started girls basketball camps for junior high athletes to get them ready for the high school level. Mitchell's commitment to local youth sports led to his induction in the Federal Way Athletic Hall of Fame inaugural class of 2008.

Upon retirement, Sam and Maryann traveled extensively across the nation and world. Apparently, Mitchell found friends everywhere.

"On family trips, whether we'd go to Disneyland or Maine, he'd run into someone he knew," Ladabour said. "It didn't matter where he went, someone knew him."

Locally, he stayed active in politics as well as community service groups like the Federal Way Kiwanis.

"He was always very active alongside her," Ladabour said of Mitchell and her mother. "He didn't ever run for political office, but was just as involved in the community and through the schools ... He was just an amazing teacher and mentor to a lot of people."

Memorial service

A funeral service will be held 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, at Steel Lake Presbyterian Church, 1829 S. 308th St., Federal Way. A reception in the the church hall will follow the ceremony.

Sam Mitchell, left, was inducted into the Federal Way Athletic Hall of Fame's inaugural class of 2008. He is shown with former mayor and current city council member Jack Dovey.

Courtesy photo

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