Mitchells give back to Hillmen
The first annual Larry D. Mitchell Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to a “well rounded student- athlete” from Placer High at the upcoming Senior Awards Banquet.
The scholarship, named in honor of Larry Mitchell, was the brainchild of his family. Denise, his wife, and his two sons, Bruce and Scott, were looking for a way to honor both Mitchell and at the same time give back to the Auburn community. Mitchell died suddenly in 2010 after having lived in the Auburn community since 1982.
For the Mitchell family, it was love at first sight when they visited the Auburn area and Placer High School in 1982. Mitchell and his family were looking for a place to call home after he was relocated to run the Hewlett-Packard facility in Roseville.
“We wanted to live in the foothills and have some separation from the facility,” Denise said. “We were checking out high schools and the principal of Placer at the time, Jug Covich, won us over. We felt so welcomed. We were thrilled to be part of Placer. It reminded us of Sebastopol and Analy High School, where we both grew up.”
“We had just relocated from Puerto Rico where Larry had spent three years creating, from the ground floor up, the new HP facility in Puerto Rico. Larry was given a blank check from Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard to get the facility up and running. He was responsible for everything.”
The scholarship, in the amount of $1,000, will be awarded to a student-athlete with a minimum GPA of 3.5. He/she must have a varsity letter in two different sports and must be planning to attend a four-year school after graduating. Denise, Bruce, and Scott were part of the selection committee, but the school’s scholarship committee made the final decision.
Raised on a dairy farm outside Sebastopol, Mitchell used education as a way to move on with his life. He received an AB in engineering from Dartmouth and an MBA from Stanford. As a father, he imbued in his two sons the importance of an education.
“There was never a doubt we were getting a higher education,” Scott said. “He made it very clear to us the importance of a higher education.”
Scott, the starting quarterback for the Hillmen in 1987 and a standout wrestler, graduated from Placer in 1988. He would receive a degree from Occidental College in southern California and an MBA from UC Davis.
Bruce, who graduated four years earlier in 1984, had the distinction, both positive and negative, to have played football in Bill Miller and Tom Johnson’s final year (good), and have played for Mike Taylor, who coached and taught at Placer for one semester (bad). He also started on the powerhouse baseball teams coached by Fred Moeller. Bruce graduated from UC Davis.
“We felt like part of the community and environment immediately,” Bruce said. “Even though I had only gone to Placer for two years, everyone accepted me immediately. Teachers would go out of their way to help me out. It was and still is a wonderful community.”
Today, the Mitchell family returns the love they felt so many years ago. Denise oversees the scholarship; Scott has coached football at Placer for the last four years; Bruce has, much to the delight of Hillmen coaches, donated his two children, Nick and Macaylea, to Placer athletics. Nick has played four years of soccer, three on the varsity, and three years of varsity baseball, including the CIF championship team of a few years ago. Macaylea, a freshman sensation in cross-country, track, and soccer, is following in her talented brother’s footsteps.
The Mitchells have lived the Placer motto, “In the best of times… in the worst of times… and at all times… it’s great to be a Hillman.
Dave Krizman’s column runs Wednesdays in the Journal.