By Norma Adams-Wade and Cheryl Smith
Linda A. Mitchell has been referred to as a “business juggernaut.” The woman who even as a child was touted for her business acumen and commitment to anything she undertook died Sunday, after a lengthy illness.
A native of Florida, Mitchell attended the University of South Florida where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social and Behavioral Science, with emphasis in Sociology and Black History. She was among an early group of African Americans who integrated the campus.
At the time of her demise Mitchell was CEO of the 108-year-old Black & Clark Funeral Home; doing what she absolutely loved, serving grieving families and helping them with the last rites for their loved ones.
It might sound too morbid to say death intrigued Mitchell early in her life. Better to say she never feared it and wondered why others did.
“I always wanted to own a funeral home since around the 10th grade,” she told journalist Norma Adams-Wade in an interview. “I was fascinated with death but didn’t know why.”
It was years later before she received her answer.
In 1977, she and her second husband moved to Dallas and in 1979 he died of a sudden heart attack. Mitchell was devastated and said the tragedy took her through emotions that she said helped her to empathize with grieving clients.
The owner of L.A. Mitchell Memorial Planning Service, she spent several years in the funeral business before forming a relationship with Black & Clark, securing office space for a pre-need funeral service she represented as the Texas district manager.
Her responsibilities expanded as did her commitment. No one could deny that poured so much into keeping Black & Clark as a thriving entity in an industry that appeared to be swallowing up Black-owned funeral home.
She also worked with other funeral home operators to address industry concerns, but expressed disappointment that efforts weren’t producing necessary results sooner.
Those who worked with Mitchell praised her love of and commitment to the funeral home industry.
Thomas Wattley Jr. is the senior finance and marketing consultant for Black & Clark.
His respect for Mitchell is clearly evident when you see the two interacting and taking care of business.
Wattley said people quickly recognized Mitchell’s humanity behind her straight-forward business exterior.
Aside from the funeral business, she was fiercely devoted to young people, education, her faith, and moving the African American community forward.
“You first have to respect her as an entrepreneur…(who is) taking care of her community,” said Wattley. “She’s hard-headed, yet very caring and loves her people.
Working with her is like taking a class in African Americans 101.”
Mitchell said the hard knocks of her life have helped her relate to the families she serves, and there have been many.
“There’s very little anybody can talk about that I haven’t experienced,” said Mitchell, in an interview five years ago, as she talked about being a cancer and domestic abuse survivor.
Through numerous other challenges, she has remained steadfast in her desire to do good.
Unfortunately the rigors of the business, hampered recently by changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Caused challenges, for Mitchell as she was dealing with failing health.
Her strong desire to see not only Black-owned funeral homes, but Black-owned businesses and communities thriving was very important to her.
She was especially supportive of Black media and encouraged anyone who would listen to do so as well.
“If we don’t support our own businesses, we can’t expect anyone else to,” she said during an interview. “Our support will ensure the survival of our businesses and our communities.”
It is with great sadness that the Black and Clark Funeral Home (Black and Clark) announces the death of our CEO, leader, colleague and friend, Linda Anderson Mitchell.
Ms. Mitchell was 71 years old and died Sunday, October 16, 2022.
Ms. Mitchell was owner of Black and Clark since 2006. She is credited as the key driving force behind the revitalization of the funeral home.
Ms. Mitchell served as a Co-President of the Dallas Black Funeral Home Owners Coalition, an advocacy, marketing, and networking group of CEOs of Black-owned Funeral Homes in North Texas.
Visitation for viewing Ms. Mitchell will be on Friday, October 21, 2022, from 2:00 p.m. Until 8:00 p.m. Funeral Services will be held on Saturday, October 22, 2022, at 3:00 p.m. at Black and Clark Funeral Home is 2517 East Illinois Avenue, Dallas, TX 75216.