Featured Gippsland Unique Character of Gippsland

Unique Character of Gippsland – Jack Mitchell

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Every so often we’re lucky enough to meet some very inspiring characters from all over Gippsland. Jack Mitchell is one such character. Both modest and selfless, Jack Mitchell is a very impressive man to talk with. In fact, after meeting Jack and lovely wife, Margaret, this writer was left questioning what more he could do to give back and offer to his own community. Jack met his wife Margaret whilst both were working for telephone exchanges. They would need to speak with each- other regularly in order to manage and transfer important calls. This went on for about two years before they were to ever met in person. They have since been happily married for over 56 years, have raised 3 children and now have 6 grandchildren. They all live in Melbourne, so Jack advises that family get-togethers are very happy moments. Jack advised us he has a long standing connections to Gippsland. “My Dad’s sister Elvie married John Stephenson, a farmer from Nicholson in the late 1930’s and my grandparents moved to Bairnsdale, also in the late 1930’s, with family members opening Mitchell Brother’s, a sports, fishing, cycling and motorcycle store in the main street, which featured a penny- farthing cycle on the roof, after their army service. I still have cousins living locally”. Born in Swan Hill in November, 1937, Jack Mitchell went on to attend several state schools, Rippon Lea, Digger’s Rest, Malvern Central and Mount Dandenong. Upon reaching secondary school, Jack was to attend Upwey High School, completing the fifth form. Over the years Jack has had many affiliations with sporting clubs, often in his trademark voluntary style or an administration role, however does fondly recall playing football with Olinda and Ferny Creek until he was approximately 18 or 19 years of age. Jack did recall deciding football might be a little too dangerous and therefore possibly a risk to his career path and future aspirations. Most of Jack’s extensive years in business were with the Coles Group, holding a range of roles starting with store management positions and moving on to merchandise buying and business development roles in both Australia and New Zealand. Upon retiring, Jack’s position was General Manager of Merchandise, Marketing and Logistics with Kmart, New Zealand in 1994. Jack was instrumental in the setup and infrastructure for the “Super Kmart” concept stores during the 1980’s, informing us that he was actually here to set up the Traralgon store which we can see right across the road from The Gippslander offices. During these years, Jack was introduced to Apex Club, spending 15 years as a proud member and later becoming involved with Rotary Club and various community projects, becoming a director himself of several non-profit organisations, notably Waverley Industries, a package and assembly firm who is a major employer of those with disabilities and very well respected by charitable organisations. Jack Mitchell was voted Cardinia Shire’s Senior Citizen of the Year in 2014, and it’s no wonder why. Let’s take a look at the amazing local projects and groups Jack has lent his years of experience and time to, since arriving as the 1000th Lakeside resident in 2004;

• Pakenham BusinessGroup
• Lakeside Neighbourhood Watch
• Lakeside Community Development Program
• Cardinia Shire Business Development
• 4C’s Crisis Relief Centre
• Pakenham Secondary College – Beacon Program
• The Cardinia Foundation
• Cardinia Road Rail Station Project
• Lakeside Community Bendigo Bank
• Biggest Blokes Cardinia Casey Inc.
• Cardinia Relay for Life
• Pakenham ParkRun
• Pakenham RSL

Jack volunteers both his time and expertise for all of these projects and organisations and we are pleased that it has been recognised. We asked Mr Mitchell if there was something he was most proud of during his work in the Pakenham area: “There have been many highlights during our years in Gippsland, however if I have to nominate the one project of which I am most proud, it would be the years of support to 4C’s Crisis Relief Centre, particularly the relocation to the new premises, which was completed in 2011”. Not just content with assisting locally, Jack has in the past also been heavily involved with ABV (Australian Business Volunteers) , formally known as AESOP. ABV is a group located in Canberra and conduct volunteer projects through South East Asia and the Pacific Region to further business knowledge and infrastructure in less developed nations and regions. Jack worked on projects in Micronesia, Kiribati, The Phillipines and Western Samoa. His Wife, Margaret, also volunteered her time and energy to these projects, in particular between 1998 and 2000 when they worked closely together, spending almost 11 months in Pohnpei over the course of 2 years, working on logistics and analytics for the island’s supply chain, servicing 35,000 locals. Something on the radar for Jack next will be the Biggest Blokes BBQ on September 1st this year. This is a major annual fundraising day to promote Men’s Health issues, in particular, Prostate Cancer Research. As a prostate cancer survivor himself, this would clearly be an issue very close to his heart. Imagine what a Gippsland we could live in if we all took a leaf out of Jack and Margaret Mitchell’s book and gave up our time, funds and expertise to help others in need. This is one writer who is certainly now motivated to do more. To give more. The Gippslander is most proud to consider Jack one of Gippsland’s unique and inspiring characters.

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