Former Congressman Donald J. Mitchell, who represented the Mohawk Valley from 1972 to 1982, died Sept. 27. He was 80. After World War II, Mitchell attended Hobart College, and then Columbia University, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in optometry. He later returned to Columbia for a master's degree in education.
While in Congress, Mitchell was known for his efforts to increase spending for civil defense. He was able to gain some support for his position within the Armed Services Committee, but was unsuccessful in convincing the House to raise civil defense expenditures. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-New Hartford, who succeeded Mitchell in Congress, and served on Mitchell's congressional staff for seven years in the 1970s, said Mitchell made valuable contributions to the region and the nation, in the obituary from the Sept. 29 Utica, N.Y., Observer-Dispatch.