Patricia Gwendolyn Mitchell 1968 - 2018

Many of you may know that I have been contributing articles to The Neighborhood News for many years. Before formally taking on the “Public Safety" beat, I often wrote about politics, Los Angeles history, and scores of other things that fit with the mission of this publication. Dianne and I got to know each other well when I was producing a local news series called “Newswire L.A.” On several occasions, especially when local politics was involved, we teamed up and used our respective platforms for the benefit of both. When I ended the series, I transitioned here to continue tackling the local subjects I love. 

June18Chin2It must be said that NO MAN (OR WOMAN) DOES IT ALONE. This article is less about me and more about the life of someone near and dear to me: Patricia Gwendolyn Mitchell. I don’t expect for many to say “I know her,” but she was the secret power behind this writer on so many levels. The world lost this woman in January of this year after a short battle with cancer. 

Patricia, Trish from this point on, was a native-born Angeleno who was adopted at a very young age into a family that included two other adopted children as well. She was a bright but mischievous child who needed a path to channel all of her extra energy. Her mother found that outlet in swimming. All three of the Mitchell children took up the sport, but she would explode onto the swimming scene at a time when African-Americans were few and far between. She swam for the cities of Commerce and South Gate. She’d go NCAA at Long Beach State where she set several records, some of which still stand today. It was estimated recently that she swam some 34,000 miles in her lifetime. She swam under Olympic coach Klaus Barth and missed making her own Olympics by a puny 1/10th of a second. 

Trish worked for 30 years as the aquatics coordinator for the city of South Gate, California where she did more than just run a pool or two. She also used her job as a platform to the change lives of the youth who worked for her. After her passing, they paid her back…more on that later. 

Trish branched out and embraced the arts as a playwright and actress (stage/tv/film). When we met back in 2006, the arts were the major “hook” that sparked what would be our 12-year journey. She would be instrumental in my own journey as a screen/TV writer, news producer, and print writer. She was also instrumental in my public service career to our city as a member of the Community Emergency Response Team and the Mid City Neighborhood Council

Although she didn’t live in our area, and in fact, didn’t even live in the city of South Gate which is so closely associated with her, the truth is that every community was her community. When I worked on a story here in Mid City, she was right here working my cameras, producing, and even sometimes reporting the story. For those times, Mid City, West Adams, Leimert Park, Jefferson Park, Ladera Heights, and all of our familiar haunts were as much her hometown as it is for me, Dianne, and you folks. When I wrote a story for The Neighborhood News, she was the one who proofread it for accuracy and was not shy in challenging some of my assertions when warranted. As a civilian first responder, she attended my area drills and meetings, and was quick to remind me that as a leader, I had to always stay “on my game.” I will say that every good thing that happened in my life over the past 12 years was probably owed to her in full or in part. She was my moral compass and knew me when the spotlight was on and off. Her untimely passing at the age of 49 is a vacuum I and a host of others are still reeling from. 

I don’t have enough space to continue to sing the praises of this woman, but I do want to thank Dianne and the gang here at TNN for the space to publicly voice the love I have for this woman. Oh, you’ll recall that I alluded to Trish’s 30 years with the city of South Gate. Well, a resolution was put in front of the city council that started with the generations of young people who worked for her at South Gate Swim 

Stadium and spread to all corners of the city. 

On April 26, 2018, the council chambers were filled with 200 former and current employees, city residents, family, and others who were there to voice their support renaming the swim stadium the “Patricia G. Mitchell Swim Stadium.” The resolution passed 5-0 and the stadium will be renamed later this year. This is an honor that does not come easy, so I think it’s fair to say, Patricia G. Mitchell was one extraordinary woman who I was lucky to have in my life for so long. I wish it could have been longer. 




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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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