Colonel G. Thorpe Mitchell, United States Air Force (USAF), husband to Karen Mitchell, father to Brad Mitchell and son of Gerald and Marcia Mitchell, passed away Dec. 11, 2016.
Born April 2, 1938 in New Kensington, Penn., Thorpe grew up along the East Coast and moved to Wilmette, Ill. in 1954 where he later graduated from New Trier, HS. In 1960, Thorpe graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU), in Delaware, Ohio, where Thorpe was in the USAF Reserve Officer Training Corps, member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity and lettered four yours as the goalie on the varsity lacrosse team.
Upon graduation, Thorpe was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the USAF, later graduating from flight school.
In 1962, Thorpe married the love of his life, Karen (Boyd) Mitchell. They were married for 54 years. After their marriage they were quickly assigned to many USAF bases within the United States and also to Tachikawa, Japan where — then Captain Mitchell — earned the Air Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and the Vietnam Service ribbon flying the C-124 Globemaster.
Upon returning to the U.S. in 1967, Thorpe briefly left the military to pursue a business career, and earned a Masters of Business degree from the University of Chicago in 1969. However, his love of flying quickly lured him back to military aviation and Grissom Air Force base in Indiana. While there – and later to Ft Wayne Air National Guard base – Thorpe would fly the A-37, F-100 and F-4 Phantom II.
In 1980 he earned “Top Gun” honors for the 122nd Tactical Fighter Wing.
Since 1977, Thorpe and Karen lived at Lake Tippecanoe in Leesburg, and in 1985 Thorpe was ordained by Dr. Lester Sumrall of Lester Sumrall Evangelical Association (LESEA). Thorpe and Karen pastored the Northern Lakes Cathedral of Praise in North Webster from 1983-2003 and Thorpe also served as LESEA’s chief pilot, and flew the Cessna Citation, Falcon 20 and the C-130 Hercules.
Thorpe’s proudest accomplishment was running LESEA’s missionary outreach and Feed the Hungary program in the early 1990s; flying into formerly restricted areas of the world, including Iran and many of the former United Soviet Socialist Republics and in Eastern Europe. Thorpe retired from the Air Force (Reserve) as a Colonel at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in 1990.
Thorpe is survived by wife Karen; son, Colonel (Ret) Brad Mitchell; daughter-in-law, Dr. Jeanne Mitchell; and grandchildren: Andy, Ally and Mark.
A memorial service will take place from 1-2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17 at the Faith Christian Center, 1801 W. Clinton St, Goshen and interment, with Full Military Honors, will be at Arlington National Military Cemetery.