'Tink was there': Bath mourns passing of city councilor, former fire chief

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BATH — City officials expressed shock and sadness Tuesday morning at the sudden death over the weekend of Leverett “Tink” Mitchell, a city councilor and former fire chief.

Mitchell, 68, died Dec. 30 at Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Mitchell was born in Bath, graduated from Morse High School and served two tours in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He and his wife had five children and several grandchildren.

He retired in 2002 after 27 years with the fire department, where he served the last four years as chief. Mitchell served on the City Council from 2002 to 2005. He had spent time on the Main Street Bath board and a downtown parking committee before his re-election to the council in 2012, when he filled a vacancy created by the death of Councilor Ruthe Pagurko.

He was re-elected in 2013 and 2016, and sworn in just last month for a term to run through 2019.

City officials on Tuesday had much praise for Mitchell, noting his many committee memberships while he was a councilor, including the Appointment Screening, Bath Recognition, Budget/Finance, Parking and Transportation, Sidewalk Vending License, and Solid Waste & Recycling committees, the Midcoast Council of Governments, Sagadahoc County Communications Center Board of Directors, and Student Community Liaison Council.

Committee appointments for 2017 were to have been made at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Mitchell, interviewed in 2012 during his run for the City Council, called Bath “a great little city.”

“And I want to see it stay that way,” he said. “I was around when a lot of the storefronts back in the ’80s … were all empty, and Bath was really on its way downhill. And with a lot of hard work from a lot of people, they turned that around and brought back Bath to a really prosperous little city again, and I want to be part of that.”

Clearly, he was.

Council Chairwoman Mari Eosco said Monday that she met Mitchell 15 years ago, during his first time on the panel, “and he has been one of the most dedicated councilors that I have worked with in my 10 years.”

“He works very much behind the scenes; he’s always involved with what’s happening in City Hall, and helping to relay information to other councilors,” Eosco said. “… He’s been known as one of the committee members that really is a doer.”

A special election to fill Mitchell’s seat will likely be held within the next few months, she said.

City Manager Bill Giroux on Tuesday called Mitchell “a pleasure to work with,” who “did way more for the community” than many people realized. “He would take on big projects on his own and complete them.”

Giroux recalled Mitchell led the effort to place a new flagpole and memorial at the South End boat launch, as well as a granite bench for Vietnam veterans at Waterfront Park.

“We’ve got to go and regroup, and see where we go from here,” City Clerk Mary White said Tuesday, recalling that Mitchell was her EMT instructor in the 1980s.

“I’ve known him ever since; we were very close,” she said. “He was a very dedicated, community-oriented person. … That’s just the way he was. If there was something that needed to be done in this community, Tink was there; he was involved in some way.”

White added that “we’re still reeling; we just don’t know how we’re going to replace him.”

Visitation for Mitchell will be held at Daigle Funeral Home in Bath from 5-8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7. A celebration of life, including military and fire department honors, will be held there at 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecater.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.