Houston oil giant and real estate developer George Mitchell dies

THE WOODLANDS, TX

During his oil career, Mitchell's company was responsible for discovering more than 200 oil and 350 natural gas wells. He was a Galveston native who attended Texas A&M after graduating from Ball High School.

As an adult, Mitchell lived most of his life in The Woodlands, a community he helped create in the 1970s.

"The Woodlands would not be The Woodlands without George Mitchell," The Woodlands Township Chairman Bruce Tough said.

Tough knew Mitchell for 40 years. His father was hired to help design what would become The Woodlands.

"He was an exceptional man and you knew you were with someone very special, very significant when you were in his presence. He was brilliant, incredibly brilliant," he said.

Mitchell not only foresaw what The Woodlands could be as an energy innovator, he was also among the innovators of fracking, the process by which our state and country now enjoy a wealth of natural gas.

But in this part of the world, he is known for being the father of community with 105,000 residents that started as a clearing in logging country.

"The locals, which I'm one of, called it Mitchell's folly because no one thought that he could erect a scheme like this, in what was then considered a swamp, and make it successful," said Nelda Luce Blair with The Woodlands Township.

But The Woodlands wasn't the only community Mitchell had a major impact on. He never forgot the town he grew up in, Galveston. Mitchell was key in helping turn around the economy on the island and revitalizing it.

He was instrumental in the resurrection of The Strand, specifically and more generally in the success of Galveston Island as a tourist destination. He spent countless hours and millions of his own money restoring buildings there. Those include 18 historic buildings, 400,000 square feet of retail and apartments and three hotels including the Tremont House, Hotel Galvez and Harbor House.

Mitchell graduated from the Old Ball High School, went to Texas A&M and kept coming back.

We spoke with former Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas about all Mitchell and his wife, Cynthia, did for the island.

"Galveston as a city has been blessed over the years by George Mitchell, whose contributions to the city's welfare and future has been so great that his impact, I believe, will last for generations to come," said Thomas. "It was thanks to George and Cynthia Mitchell that the restoration of the Strand and all our great architecture began and we are so grateful to him and to Cynthia for what they've done for Galveston."

Cynthia Woods Mitchell passed away in 2009 after a battle with Alzheimer's.

George Mitchell was 94 years old.

Below is a statement from the Mitchell family

    We are deeply saddened to announce that George Phydias Mitchell passed away today. He died of natural causes in Galveston surrounded by his family. His story was quintessentially American.

    George P. Mitchell was raised as a child of meager means who, throughout his life, believed in giving back to the community that made his success possible and lending a hand to the less fortunate struggling to reach their potential.

    He married Cynthia Woods Mitchell, and, together, they raised 10 children and collaborated on myriad projects -- all dedicated to making the world a more hospitable and sustainable place. Cynthia passed away in 2009.

    He will be fondly remembered for flying in the face of convention -- focusing on 'what could be,' with boundless determination -- many times fighting through waves of skepticism and opposition to achieve his vision.

    Whether it was graduating first in his class at Texas A&amb;M University, developing the first master-planned community, pioneering the technology that unleashed the shale gas boom, working to create a more sustainable planet, restoring the historic area of Galveston, or just fishing with his family, he had the right mix of vision, optimism, and tenacity, and a love for his fellow man./p>

    We are and will forever be grateful for the gift of this remarkable life. There's no doubt that he helped make this world a better place.

    For additional information, please visit the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation website at www.cgmf.org.

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