MITCHELL, Alexander Keith
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Alexander Keith Mitchell on October 26, 2021. Born in Vancouver to Alec and Nora Mitchell on June 13, 1945, Keith is survived by his wife of 51 years, Mary Jane; children, Malia Mitchell, Alexander Mitchell and Elisa Blackford; daughter-in-law, Suzanne Mitchell; son-in-law, James Blackford; grandchildren, Dylan and Jake Mitchell, and Myles and Violet Blackford; brother, Kyle (Mary) Mitchell; sisters, Barbara Sue (Al) Vitols and Nora Jean (John David) Newlands; brother-in-law, John (Balbiro) Randall; and sisters-in-law, Sara and Ellen Randall. He is also mourned by his nieces, nephews, cousins and extended family.
Keith grew up in Vancouver, where, after attending Maple Grove Elementary School and Magee Secondary School, he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Thanks to the inspiration of the Hon. Arthur Laing, Keith found his way to Ottawa, first working as a guide in the House of Commons and later as an assistant to the Right Hon. John Turner. It was at this time that Keith’s passion for politics was born. He became an enthusiastic, lifelong Liberal, though he respected political differences and had huge admiration for public servants of every political stripe.
After crisscrossing the country as part of the Right Hon. Pierre Trudeau’s 1968 election team, Keith attended UBC Law School, where he obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1971. He joined the law firm of Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy (now Farris LLP), where he spent a very happy and productive 48 years doing a job he truly loved. Keith was recognized for his work in his profession with a Queen’s Counsel appointment. At Farris, he enjoyed the camaraderie of colleagues and was invigorated by the mentorship given and received over the course of his career. He was proud of his association with the firm where he would become Managing Partner and, later, Chair. While his practice was broad and varied, he advised on the key issues in the Canada-US softwood lumber dispute for more than 25 years, and he relished working with clients, counsel and senior government officials on both sides of the border.
As a proud Vancouverite, British Columbian and Canadian, Keith was very involved with his community. He played a role in the reshaping and growth of Vancouver in the 1980s and 1990s by serving as a director on various boards, including the Expo 86 Corporation. He also served as the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Emily Carr College of Art and Design, Founding Chair of the Board of Directors of the BC Achievement Foundation, Director of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and Director of Lex Mundi. A devoted alumnus of UBC, Keith more recently served as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council at the UBC Allard School of Law.Keith was a high-energy presence, his booming voice often distinctly heard over the buzz of a good party. He and Mary Jane loved to entertain at their home in Vancouver and their cottage in Point Roberts, fabulous food and wine being twin passions of his.
With boundless curiosity-three books regularly on the go-Keith was always at the ready to share an opinion (or three). He traded in good political stories and cultivated great friendships. He took immense pleasure in celebrating life’s milestones, which brought him and Mary Jane, regularly accompanied by family or friends, on adventures near and far. For Keith, a Hawaiian sunset could not be beat.
First and foremost, Keith was a family man who took great delight and pride in his children and grandchildren. Amidst his professional life and his diverse interests, he devoted himself to his family and their wellbeing. He was at his most content when surrounded by them, wherever that happened to be.
Keith’s kindness, enthusiasm and thoughtfulness left a mark on many. His spirit will be carried on by those whose lives he touched.
Tribute to Alexander Keith Mitchell, The Advocate, March 2022.
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