William “Red” Mitchell, a force with Toledo hockey clubs from the early 1950s into the 1970s as a player and then a player-coach, died Tuesday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue. He was 84.
He had kidney failure, his son Jim said. He was a caregiver for his wife, Marjorie, 85, who died Friday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. They married on her birthday in September, 1999.
Mr. Mitchell of Perrysburg coached youth hockey for decades, during and after his career. He played regularly into his 70s, said Ty Szumigala, who was 9 when he joined a team Mr. Mitchell coached.
“He surrounded himself in hockey and the people who were involved in hockey. He loved the sport,” said Mr. Szumigala, executive director of the Maumee Indoor Theatre who became a close friend. “He was Mr. Hockey of Toledo. He was always at the rinks, when he wasn't working.”
Mr. Mitchell came to Toledo in 1952 as a member of the Mercurys after playing junior, senior, and semipro hockey in Canada, according to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Web site.
“He could handle a puck and skate like the wind,” his son said.
Mr. Mitchell left Toledo in 1958. Stints followed in Fort Wayne, St. Louis, and in Chatham and Windsor, Ont., where he was on a championship team. He represented Canada in the 1962 world championships.
He returned to the Mercurys briefly and, in the 1962-63 season, played his sole National Hockey League game with the Detroit Red Wings. He coached the 1966-67 season at the University of Toledo and then played for the Toledo Blades, becoming their coach as well in 1969. He resigned in 1971 from what was then the Toledo Hornets.
He was called on several times to represent his era at Toledo Walleye games — such as in 2010, when the Mercurys’ Turner Cup banners were raised inside the new team’s new downtown arena .
Mr. Mitchell was a tool-and-die maker by trade, working for several Toledo area shops through the decades. He retired about 15 years ago from the Ford Motor Co. plant in Maumee. He’d been a member of the Toledo Yacht and North Cape yacht clubs and sailed Lake Erie.
He was born Feb. 22, 1930, in Port Dalhousie, Ont.
He was preceded in death by former wife, Elma Goad Mitchell. He also was formerly married to Elizabeth Foreman Mitchell, who survives.
Survivors include his daughter, Sandra Kontac; sons, James and Keith Mitchell and, family members said, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A celebration of Mr. Mitchell’s life is scheduled for 5-8 p.m. Friday in the Maumee Indoor Theatre.
The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.
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