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Published: Saturday, 5/5/2007

Farmer, auctioneer known for humor

BRYAN - Thoral Tilden "T.T." Mitchell, 96, a farmer and auctioneer known for warming his audiences with humor, died Tuesday in Grady Memorial Hospital, Delaware, Ohio.

The death was the result of pneumonia, Linda Smith, his daughter, said. Because of declining health, Mr. Mitchell moved last year from his home just outside Bryan to live with his daughter in Delaware.

Mr. Mitchell worked for more than 30 years as an auctioneer for the former Bryan office of Gorrell Brothers Auctioneers and Real Estate.

He got into the business in his early 20s, taking the advice of another area auctioneer who believed his gregarious personality would serve him well in the job, his daughter said.

Indeed, Mr. Mitchell came to enjoy and thrive in the fast-paced auction environment. He loved to add jokes and humorous stories to his commentary and felt that the personal flourishes helped coax bids.

"He was sort of a jokester when he auctioned," Ms. Smith said. "He was very good about working the crowd, and getting people to get the next bid out."

He was born in Akron and as a boy moved with his family to Napoleon. Aside from auction school in Illinois, his formal education ended with ninth grade. As a young man, he moved to a farm outside Bryan, where he raised grain and later hogs. For a time, he was a seed company salesman and once ventured into residential real estate development, his daughter said.

Mr. Mitchell retired from auctioneering while in his 50s because of fading vision from macular degeneration. Yet he never lost his auction voice.

"He was great at tongue twisters," his daughter said. "Even in his 80s and 90s, he was still doing his spiel and people always got a kick out of that."

In 1928, he married Marjorie Kimpel, who died in 1992. His second wife, the former Virginia Lavens, died in April, 2006.

Surviving are his daughters, Karen Menefee and Linda Smith; sister, Thelma Kryling; four grandchildren; a great-granddaughter; a stepson, and two stepdaughters.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today in the Burr Funeral Home & Crematory, Bryan. The family suggests tributes to First Church of Christ, Bryan.

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