Kind, funny, compassionate: Remembering former Vernon Morning Star editor Glenn Mitchell | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kind, funny, compassionate: Remembering former Vernon Morning Star editor Glenn Mitchell

Glenn Mitchell died Dec. 17 at age 60.
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December 22, 2020 - 7:00 AM

There is a stereotype that newspaper editors are generally grouchy, argumentative, and difficult to deal with.

Former Vernon Morning Star editor Glenn Mitchell was none of these things.

"He's one of the best people I've ever worked with, and for, in my life," Morning Star reporter Roger Knox told "He had our backs every single day."

Knox describes his friend and former boss as kind, generous, funny and compassionate.

"He was just one of the nicest humans I've ever met, he was generous to a fault," Knox said.

READ MORE: Knox's own obituary in the Vernon Morning Star: Colleagues, community deeply saddened by Vernon editor’s death

It's a sentiment shared by people across the community.

Mitchell died Dec. 17. He was 60 years old.

While Mitchell didn't fit the stereotypical mould of a newspaper editor, he was still a staunch newspaperman who took his job very seriously.

Mitchell was in the newsroom on day one when the Vernon Morning Star launched in 1988 as sports editor. After a short stint as editor of the Salmon Arm Observer, he returned to the paper as managing editor and remained at the helm until 2018.

"It was his paper, it was his baby. He took good care and great pride in it," Knox said. "He's basically what made the Morning Star."

An avid sports fan, community member, father, son, and husband, Mitchell was born in New Westminster in 1960 and moved to Vernon at age three. He graduated from Vernon Senior Secondary School in 1978 and got a degree from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. He later studied journalism in Kamloops and started his career as a reporter for the Hope Standard.

He returned to Vernon and made it his permanent home, along with his wife Rhoda and their two sons, Justin and Lucas.

He loved to play golf, he coached sports, and in later life spent time at his fifth-wheel near Okanagan Lake.

To the community, he's best known for the three decades of his life he sank into his beloved local paper.

Mitchell had an open-door policy.

"You could always talk to him about anything," Knox said. "If you were going through some rough stuff, you knew you could shut his office door and talk things out with him and you'd leave there feeling a lot better than when you came in."

And while Mitchell was a kind and generous man he was certainly no pushover.

"He always asked tough questions," former Liberal MLA Eric Foster said. "If there was an issue going on Glenn always got right to the heart of the matter."

Foster described Mitchell as a "constant professional" who never took cheap shots and left personal attacks out of his regular column, Mitchell's Musings.

Even after Mitchell left the paper in 2018 he continued to write his column and his writing reflects his sense of humour and a sharp eye on the world. Recently published columns this year feature his musings on everything from his disdain for disposable men's razorblades – "I even tried a full-blown beard for awhile in protest but my love life suffered to the point that it wasn’t worth the political stand I was trying to make" – to changing the name of Vernon to Kalamalka – "it’s indigenous, it rolls off the tongue, it salutes the prettiest lake in Canada... it’s perfect," he says.

But his columns weren't all lighthearted. In a musing published in September, Mitchell called out Premier John Horgan for calling an early election, while managing to take swipes at the Greens and describing the Liberal leader as "boring uncle Andrew."

Former Vernon mayor Akbal Mund doesn't recall getting a hard time from Mitchell in his column but does recall an incident during a game of broomball during the winter carnival a decade or so ago.

"I remember I kind of mistakenly slashed Glenn," Mund said. "At the end of the game when we were enjoying a beverage, he comes to me and goes, 'you know (in) the real game I would have got you back.'"

Mund said he met Mitchell when he moved to Vernon in 1993 and the two became close.

"Glenn was just a down to earth guy you could have a conversation about anything, he's always lending you that ear," Mund said. "He had a lot of wisdom to share with people."

And he shared that wisdom with a stream of young reporters who passed through the newspaper over the years.

Knox said Mitchell was a tremendous help in his career.

"I think in the 10 years I worked with him, he and I may have butted heads maybe two or three times… and it was always forgotten by the end of the day,” Knox said. "I can't say it enough, he really was one of the nicest human beings you could possibly meet.”

And while Mitchell coached the reporters that passed through, turnover of staff was low. It appears their managing editor gave them no reason to want to leave.

Mitchell’s brother Kevin – who also spent 27 years at the paper – said his brother always made people feel welcome.

“(Mitchell) had the time of day for you, (he) didn’t have an ego… everybody in the newsroom felt at ease walking in through his office to discuss whatever it was,” Kevin said. “Unfortunately he loved everybody but himself.”

Knox said Mitchell was also known for giving the world’s greatest hugs.

“We're all blessed to have known him and worked for him and with him,” he said. “He is going to be sorely missed.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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