Mary Helen Mitchell (89)

Carmi, Illinois
Birth: June 16, 1933
Death: March 16, 2023

Mary Helen Mitchell, 89, died March 16, 2023, at North River Health Campus in Evansville, Indiana. She was born on June 16, 1933, in Marion, Kentucky, the daughter of John Hester Gass and Edna (Morgan) Gass and younger sister of Charles Gass. She met and married (only a month later) the one and only love of her life, George Noble Mitchell, at age 40, on March 28, 1974.

Mary Helen’s life was devoted to caring for those who were closest to her, whether by blood or through marriage. In many ways, her life could be divided into 2 main parts: before marriage and after. She was born and raised until age 10 in Marion, Kentucky, surrounded by her beloved family and several special aunts who were especially close to her after her Mother became a widow when Mary Helen was a very young toddler. This is when she acquired the Gass family nickname of “Francis” which no one could really trace beyond her older brother’s antics. At age 10, during the height of WWII, her mother moved her and her brother to Evansville to work in the war effort at a factory. In many ways, this is when Mary Helen’s ability to be content by herself really blossomed as she played with paper dolls and learned how to entertain herself. She grew up and completed her education when she graduated from Central High School in Evansville. For the next 20+ years, she enjoyed a simple life in Evansville caring for her beloved mother, her brother, her family back in Marion, KY, wearing her high heels while working, and particularly enjoyed the freedom and independence of late night drives alone with her thoughts on the streets of Evansville. Mary Helen enjoyed her single life and her responsibilities working as a secretary/ Office Manager at Harmon Oil Company and later William Hamilton Oil Company both in Evansville.

At the age of 40, in February 1974, all of that changed when a handsome man walked into the oil office to use the phone. It was love at first sight and Mary Helen Gass married George N. Mitchell, father of 2 grown children, just a month later at the Roofless Church in New Harmony, IN; much to the initial chagrin of her mother. Mary Helen then moved her life to Carmi, IL and began another chapter of life for the remaining nearly 5 decades of her life as a Mitchell. She continued to be a devoted daughter and niece, traveling often to care for her mother and aunts in Marion, Kentucky until their passing, and spending time with her nieces, Shawnna Gerding & Lynda Merrill and her nephews, Marty and Jon Stephan Gass; but the majority of her life was spent hopelessly devoted to doing whatever made George happy.

Together, over their 40 years of marriage, George and Mary Helen built a happy life together in Carmi, summers at Kentucky Lake, snow birding in Grenelefe, FL, and in their motorhome traveling the US. Wherever she was, Mary Helen enjoyed making things homey, beautiful, and cooking food that George and any company might enjoy. Although she continued in her affinity to solitude at home, she quickly embraced life as a step-mom and mother-in-law to Chris & Barb Mitchell and then later to Georgia Lynn & Ray Meier. Not many years later, she found herself embracing the role as a beloved “Mammaw” and watching her 6 grandkids grow up- Kelly (Taylor), Megan (King), Ryan, Sarah (Meier), Elizabeth (Meier), and Hannah (Spano). Eventually, she was shocked to become a “Great-Mammaw” to 11 great grandchildren. Never in her wildest imagination did she imagine when she was 40, that her life would be filled with so many people!

Mary Helen loved George and her growing family with all she had, but it wasn’t a secret that she never stopped loving her solitude- reading biography and historical books, tracing the Gass family history, cheering for her Cardinals year after year, and finding delight looking out her big windows to watch the deer, ducks, geese, birds, and squirrels carry on with their business while she imagined the stories those creatures must be living under her watchful eye. This was her happy place. She had a particular affection for her dog Sam and later, her adopted dog, Tux. Mary Helen had conversations with these creatures in a way that made anyone a believer that they spoke the same language.

At the end of her life, Mary Helen, was tenderly cared for by her devoted sister-in-law & daughter-in-law, Wanda Douglas & Barb Mitchell, along with 3 special caregivers- Lisa Partain, Jeanette Gass, and Brenda Dishner. Special care was also given by Dr. Chip Walsh in Evansville, IN.

Survivors include: step-son Chris (Barbara) Mitchell, step-son-in-law Ray Maier, nephew Marty Gass, grandchildren- Kelly(Clint) Taylor, Megan(Bart) King, Ryan (Jara) Mitchell, Sarah Meier, Elizabeth Meier, and Hannah (Caleb) Spano, along with 11 great-grandchildren.

She is preceded in death by her parents, John & Edna Gass, her brother- Charles Gass, sister-in-law- Geraldine Gass, George N. Mitchell- husband, and Georgia Lynn Meier- step-daughter.

Visitation is 5-7pm, Tuesday March 21 at Cook Funeral Chapel in Carmi. Funeral service will be 10am Wednesday, March 22 also at Cook Funeral Chapel with burial at White County Memorial Gardens.

Memorials in honor of Mary Helen may be made out to Pets at Risk or Carmi Schools Foundation.

Visitation: Cook Funeral Chapel, Carmi, Illinois - Tuesday, March 21, 2023 - 5-7 pm
Service: Cook Funeral Chapel, Carmi, Illinois - Wednesday, March 22, 2023 - 10 am
Burial: White County Memorial Gardens, Carmi, Illinois
Memorials: Pets At Risk or Carmi Schools Foundation

2 thoughts on “Mary Helen Mitchell”

  1. I just loved Mary Helen!!! What a special lady – she made me laugh – and that spunky attitude – I know she’s getting everybody straightened out upstairs!! My condolences to the Mitchell family – I will always remember “my girl” with fondness.

  2. Jay and Sheila Willett

    We have had such good times with great memories of George and Mary Helen and their family. Love and hugs to the family.

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