Senator’s passing great loss for state

Published 3:53 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Saturday was a sad day in the State of Alabama.

Late that afternoon, longtime senator Wendell Mitchell passed away.

Mitchell, a conservative Democrat, was a fixture in the state senate. He served as the representative for District 30, which includes parts or all of Autauga, Butler, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes and Pike counties, for nearly three decades.

Email newsletter signup

During that time he helped shape our community.

Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon called him a “great statesman.”

Sen. Bryan Taylor, who defeated Mitchell in the 2012 election, called him a “gentleman.”

Mark Kennedy, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, called Mitchell “one of the most respective individuals in the Alabama Democratic Party.”

I didn’t know Sen. Mitchell well, but while working at a newspaper in Troy, I had the opportunity to meet and speak to him on a number of occasions. Through those brief interactions, I would have to agree with McLendon, Taylor and Kennedy.

Whether you are Republican or Democrat, one thing is certain. During his time in office, Mitchell was a great friend to Butler County and the rest of District 30.

The Luverne native, who earned the nickname “Walking” Wendell for walking from town to town to meet his constituents face-to-face, was known for working across party lines to build better schools, recruit industry, and fund important projects within his district.

Butler County greatly benefited from his efforts.

Mitchell played an important role in the recruitment of both Hwashin America and Hysco America to the county. He also helped secure funding for Greenville High School’s vocational wing and the YMCA.

The former senator was also a strong supporter of LBW Community College, and as a result the conference center on the Greenville campus bears his name.

When Taylor defeated Mitchell, he called and told the new senator he was “lucky to be able to represent such fine folks.”

He was right.

But you know what?

We were pretty lucky to be represented by Sen. Mitchell for all those years.