Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sen. Shelby floor statement about Mayer Mitchell

Want to know more about my trip to Mobile and why I went? Check out these two floor statements on the Senate floor about Bubba Mitchell:

Mr. SHELBY. Mr. President, I rise today to pay tribute to Mayer Mitchell, a great American and human being who passed away on Wednesday, September 26, 2007. A highly successful businessman and remarkable philanthropist, Mayer Mitchell was a personal friend, and along with the entire city of Mobile, I mourn his passing.

Mayer was born in New Orleans in 1933 and grew up in Mobile, AL. He earned his bachelor of science degree in economics at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Finance in 1953. He then served as an Army first lieutenant in Korea, earning a commendation ribbon with medal pendant for meritorious service.

Returning home to Mobile with his wife Arlene in 1958, Mayer founded, with his brother Abe, the Mitchell Company, a commercial and residential real estate development firm. He went on to serve as its chairman and chief executive officer for the next three decades, selling his interest in the Mitchell Company in 1986.

The company's final total under the oversight of the Mitchell brothers was remarkable, with 25,000 single family homes, 20,000 apartments and 175 shopping centers built throughout the Southeast.

In fact, the current Mitchell Company that descended from a partnership of Mayer and his brother remains the largest private firm in Mobile and is among the top 40 in Alabama. Mayer's business success earned him an induction into the Alabama Business Hall of Fame in 2006.

Mayer Mitchell leaves a legacy of tremendous philanthropy, touching the lives of many residents of south Alabama. Mayer was a tireless proponent of education and health care, serving more than 32 years on the University of South Alabama's Board of Trustees, including a term as chairman.

He was awarded the University of South Alabama's National Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award in 2005 and an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2007.

The Mitchell family's philanthropy reached all aspects of the campus at the University of South Alabama, from business and medicine to athletics. Mayer will forever be remembered as a legendary figure in the growth of the University. The Mitchell Cancer Institute, the Mitchell College of Business and the Mitchell Center sports and performance complex, proudly bear the family name.

To date, the Mitchell family holds the distinction of having contributed more than any other single family to a public university in Alabama State history.

The Mitchell Cancer Institute alone is a powerful legacy, providing state-of-the-art cancer care to people throughout the gulf coast region. Mayer always explained his deep commitment to cancer treatment through a personal connection. At the age of 36, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease and was given 6 months to live. After 2 years of treatments, Mayer made an extraordinary recovery.

This victory not only shaped his life, but shaped the future of the Mobile region as well. He never forgot that he had to leave Mobile for his own cancer treatment in Rochester, NY, and he vowed to make certain Mobile had its own cancer center in the future.

This experience shaped his generosity and will to persevere in the form of improved quality of health care for every resident in south Alabama.

Although Mayer Mitchell and his family were critical to the tremendous growth of the University of South Alabama, this was not the only object of Mayer's patronage.

A strong friend to Israel , he served a term as president of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee and served on the board of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Jewish Seminary of America, which awarded him an honorary doctorate.

Mayer supported several other schools and numerous social and religious organizations. His philanthropic service included work with Alabama Power Company, Wright School, Bishop State Community College, Leukemia Society of America, USA Foundation, AmSouth Bank, Altus Bank, Mobile Area United Way, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, Mobile Jewish Welfare Fund, Mobile Federation of Jewish Charities, Mobile County Real Estate Association, Archives of American Art, Anti-Defamation League and the Banc Corporation.

His honors include: Jewish Welfare Fund Man of the Year, Outstanding Young Men of America, Prichard Honorary Citizen of the Year, Mobile County Realtor of the Year, and numerous high honors from the Boy's Club of Mobile, Bishop State Community College, University of Rochester, New Orleans Chapter of Hadassah, Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, Mobile Kiwanis Club and the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association.

Mayer is loved and will be missed by his wife of 54 years, Arlene; his son Richard; his three daughters, Melinda Wertheim, Joy Grodnick and Lisa Bukstein; and eight grandchildren.

He was an inspiration to many and will be remembered for his dedication and many contributions to Mobile and the University of South Alabama.

I ask the entire Senate to join me in recognizing and honoring the life of Mayer Mitchell.

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