Loved ones remember Johnston City Mayor Jim Mitchell - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Loved ones remember Johnston City Mayor Jim Mitchell

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JOHNSTON CITY, Ill. -- Friends and family remember Johnston City Mayor Jim Mitchell, who died Tuesday at the age of 74.

Doctors diagnosed him with a respiratory illness in 2011, around the same time he became mayor.

"He's a hometown boy and in my book, he's done good for this town," longtime friend Shirley Mainer said.

Mainer said she's known Mitchell since high school. She said he was always friendly, including when he named her a hometown hero in 2018 for her work with the elderly.

"And I said 'Have you got the wrong number?' And he said 'No,'" Mainer said. "He was very gracious with it and I could hardly believe it was happening."

Mitchell was a regular at Andresen's Cafe, down the road from city hall.

"All of my interactions with him, he's been very supportive of everything I've wanted to do," Andresen's employee Anthony Spiller said. "I did the Hometown Christmas for seven years across the street and I had to go to Jim for permission to do that. He was always very willing, trying to help me do as much community-oriented stuff as possible."

Mitchell was also a strong supporter of the Boy Scouts, which is why the local troop lined Broadway Street with American flags in his honor.

"I just know that he's been involved with it for many years and his son, Grant, is an Eagle Scout as well too, and he's very proud of that achievement for his son," Zeigler Mayor Dennis Mitchell said.

Dennis is Jim's cousin, and he said they talked frequently about politics.  

"We would always just start each other with "'Hello, Mayor Mitchell!' 'Hello, Mayor Mitchell!'" Mitchell said.

He said Jim made a promise to his son, Grant, to see his wedding in December. Grant Mitchell said that meant the world to him.

"It was a great day health-wise," Grant said. "He was there late, far later than any of us thought he would be and had so many laughs and smiles. It was just a perfect day and we were so thankful for that."

Funeral services for Mitchell will be Saturday at the First Christian Church in West Frankfort. Johnston City council members will meet Thursday to appoint an acting mayor.

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