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Thread: Bill Mitchell, Studebaker mechanic & mentor, now w/ obituary

  1. #1
    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    Bill Mitchell, Studebaker mechanic & mentor, now w/ obituary

    I'm sorry to report the passing of my friend Bill Mitchell of Speedway, Indiana, on July 3, 2016. Bill is here on the left at an Indy Chapter SDC Meet & Eat at The Pit Stop in Brownsburg several years ago, with Golden Hawk 400 guru Tom Lawlis on the right:



    ...and at the same meeting, with yours truly:



    Bill was a light mechanic / tune-up specialist at Snider Auto Service in Indianapolis, where I hung out as a teen-ager in the early 1960s. Bill showed me how to rebuild a Paxton supercharger and many Studebaker V8 tune-up tricks. He was an excellent, conscientious mechanic, the kind you'd want working on your Studebaker.

    It was in Bill's "stall" at Snider that I first laid eyes on the white R2 Champ pickup that was built on special order and delivered new by Snider Studebaker. I remember my eyeballs popping out of my head when Bill said, "Come up here and look under the hood, Bob!" as I approached it from the rear.


    Here's one of Bill's 1963 Business Cards:



    I also remember Bill cussing the first 1965 Studebaker V8 on which he was doing a tune-up, pointing out the difficult location of the spark plugs in that engine bay, as compared to the Studebaker V8s he had worked on forever. When Snider Auto Service closed at the end of the 1966 model year, Bill went to work for a large Buick dealership on Indianapolis' west side, from which he retired years ago.

    Bill was an occasional member of SDC and our Indy Chapter through the years and we thankfully stayed in touch. I was in his Speedway home late last year when he summoned me there to give me some older magazines he knew he wouldn't be needing. He seemed to be in good health but, of course, time waits for no man. I don't have Bill's obituary just yet, but will add it to this thread when it becomes available.

    Update: Here is Bill's Obituary:

    http://www.conklefuneralhome.com/hom...04&fh_id=11820

    RIP, Bill; it was my privilege as a young Studebaker buck to be able to learn so much under-the-hood Studebakering from such a friendly, attentive man, one who always had time for a youngster poking around under the hood with him. BP
    Last edited by BobPalma; 07-06-2016 at 10:28 PM. Reason: added business card and obituary
    We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

    Ayn Rand:
    "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

    G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

  2. #2
    President Member
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    Sounds like a fine man.
    Great tribute, Bob.
    KURTRUK
    (read it backwards)




    Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong. -A. Lincoln

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    Bill's passing is a great loss to Studebaker people everywhere and it's a personal loss to me. I spoke with Bill when Bob visited him late last year. Bob put him on the phone and we had a pleasant visit.

    Back during Christmas break of 1964/1965, Bob and I had installed the new R3 engine in my '64 Challenger, the Plain Brown Wrapper. I had purchased the car through Snider Auto Service where Bill worked as a mechanic, which is where I got to know him. During the summer of 1965, I brought the R3 in for tune-up work by Bill, hoping to learn some tune-up tricks from him. He was friendly and gracious and did a fine job. After he was done, we "had" to go for a drive to "test" the results. At one point, I got on it hard in first gear. Bill was watching the tach and when we got back, he enthusiastically said "It broke the wheels loose at 4,000 rpm!"

    Bill purchased a 1964 Studebaker R1 Marshal police car from Snider when it was almost new and drove it for his daily driver for a number of years. When Bob heard that Bill was going to sell it, I told Ron Hall about it. Ron and I drove down to Indianapolis and Ron bought it from Bill. (Later, I helped Ron supercharge that car--those were the days of SUNOCO high octane gas!).

    Thanks for the memories, Bill.

    George
    george krem

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    Silver Hawk Member jclary's Avatar
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    I have been a SDC member for a number of decades. There are a large number of folks I've met, made a head nod acknowledgement, and never knew by name. Therefore, I don't recall, or know if I ever shared a "meet" moment with Bill, and certainly do not recall.

    However, I thank you, Bob, and George, for sharing your recollections with us. Especially appreciate the pictures. The pictures...Bill's face and eyes...express an elegant kindness. The type of kind character that enriches those in his circle of contact. What better legacy can a man leave? May his body rest in peace, while his soul soars anew.
    John Clary
    Greer, SC
    [IMG][/IMG]
    SDC member since 1975

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    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jclary View Post
    I have been a SDC member for a number of decades. There are a large number of folks I've met, made a head nod acknowledgement, and never knew by name. Therefore, I don't recall, or know if I ever shared a "meet" moment with Bill, and certainly do not recall.

    However, I thank you, Bob, and George, for sharing your recollections with us. Especially appreciate the pictures. The pictures...Bill's face and eyes...express an elegant kindness. The type of kind character that enriches those in his circle of contact. What better legacy can a man leave? May his body rest in peace, while his soul soars anew.
    Thanks, John. Your assessment is accurate. Those photos with Bill are about four years old, as I recall.

    Another story about Bill Mitchell that may hit home with a number of us as we get older: As you see in his obituary, he continued his mechanic career at Ogle-Tucker Buick on Indianapolis' west side after Snider Auto Service closed. He became a front-end and brake specialist, attesting to his manifold (a little play on automotive terms, there) skills.

    Bill told me he had been thinking of retiring as he approached that age. One day, he finished a wheel balance and alignment on a Buick and, as was the custom for such work, took it for a test drive. He noticed a terrible vibration and looseness. He immediately returned to the shop and discovered he hadn't tightened the lug nuts on the wheels on one side of the car.

    He said he finished that job and then notified them he was retiring at the end of that week...and did. Such was his integrity. BP
    We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

    Ayn Rand:
    "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

    G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

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