Eulogy for Paddy Mitchell

Eulogy for Patrick “Paddy” Mitchell
delivered by John Grant, January 25, 2007
at Pinecrest Memorial Gardens, Ottawa, Canada

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is John Grant. I identify myself as The Pinker’s son-in-law. I’ve been asked to speak about our friend Pat. I’ll be brief. So if anyone has a stopwatch, I’ll begin….

We all know that Pat was bigger than life. We’ve read the papers, watched the TV shows, and read the book.

But Pat was more than just a story. He was a loving and respectful son to Jean and Graham. A baby brother to Gerry, Pinky, Bobby, Bernice, Joan and Mary. An adoring husband to Joanne. An adoring husband to Imelda. A loving father to Kevin, and Richard. And a special grandfather to Joey and Jake. He was a magical uncle to his nieces and nephews.

Our family is filled with sorrow.

I’ve known Pat for over 35 years. First, when he lived in Ottawa, then when he lived in Kingston. I visited him on my motorcyle when he resided in Kansas.  Through all these years, with the exception of a few, we corresponded by letter and spoke frequently on the phone. I learned a lot about him.

In fact, Pat was also responsible for my brief moment of fame. A number of years ago, while Pat was on sabbatical, the TV program Unsolved Mysteries, had a segment about Pat’s exploits. At the conclusion of the program, the host, Robert Stack (a.ka. Elliot Ness, from the TV series The Untouchables) was seen walking across the lobby of a large financial institution. He was explaining that Pat was known to use many aliases, the latest of which was that of Johnny Grant. It was typical of Pat to jazz up my somewhat mundane name to suit his more flamboyant style.

Making friends came easy to Pat, as was apparent when I visited him in Kingston.  His drab prison garb had been transformed into a real fashion statement, and he sported the latest coiffure.

“Friends,” he said, “A talented Italian tailor, and the best Russian hairdresser from Toronto.”

People loved him because he was sincerely interested in them. He never failed to ask about my children. He wanted to know what they were doing; he took pleasure in their little successes.  My children knew this and loved him, and would leave secret messages for him should he show up at the cottage when we were not there.

When my wife Dawn had her first baby, Lee, in the old Catholic Montford Hospital, he knew Pinky and Ev were living in Moncton at the time, and Dawn missed them. In those days, visiting hours were strictly limited and strictly monitored by the Sisters. One afternoon, Dawn awoke from a nap to find Pat standing at the end of her bed. She knew it was not visiting hours and she asked him, “How did you get in here?”

Pat smiled and said, “I told them I was Father Mitchell, and they showed me right up.”

The bag he was holding contained a chocolate bar, cigarettes, and a few issues of True Confessions magazine.

Pat’s letters to us were always full of stories about friends he remembered and the new friends he made along the way, many of whom would like to be here today to pay their respects, but can’t.

Speaking of family and friends and loyalty, there are a couple of very special friends who proved their loyalty to Pat and he would want me to mention them today. Two men who did more than just talk the talk: two men who walked the walk. These two men gave Pat hope. They are Jimmy Allen and Tom Flannigan. Tom – excuse me,  Tom Flannigan, oh wow. Freudian slip there! Sorry Pinker! Tom Cavanaugh! *

He would also like me to thank two ladies who did so much work to support his Internet site and blog which he really enjoyed and took so much pleasure from. They are Lynda Warman and Susan Scruton. Thank you ladies.

As is evident from his work, Pat was filled with creativity. Despite a lack of formal training, through diligence and perseverance, he taught himself to write and to write well. He published a book and several articles. He was also an accomplished chef.

Somewhere along the way, physical fitness and healthy eating became an obsession for Pat. He quit smoking, gave up meat and started jogging. His passion knew no bounds, subjecting us all to lengthy lectures over and over and over again. I almost became a vegetarian myself as a result.

Much to the surprise of many, Pat spent the last twelve years serving as an altar boy and cleaning the chapel. He had a great faith and was a strong Roman Catholic. I’m sure his religion was a big comfort to him.

However, his most outstanding characteristic and his legacy to his grandsons Joey and Jake was his courage. He was the toughest and bravest person I have ever known. He went through the hardest times of anybody I’ve ever known. And he did it all with grace, courage and dignity. Incredibly, never once – not a single time – did I ever hear Pat complain about the shitty hand that was dealt him. It’s hard to believe, but true.

Pat was a very smart man. He was handsome and charming, well-spoken and persuasive. Make no mistake – he could have succeeded in any profession had he not chosen banking.

In July, Pat will finally make it back to Blue Sea Lake. Back in the day, two blasts of the horn signalled Joanne, Pat and Kevin’s arrival at the cottage. All kids knew the fun had just begun. It meant Mrs. Moore’s eggs, and Mr. Shield’s bacon, and Richmond Bakery donuts, and of course all the Pure Spring soft drinks you could guzzle in an evening.

The sound of the trolling motor before the sun rose would not be heard again until dusk when Pat and The Pinker returned, sunburnt and loaded with fish. Of course Pat’s were always the biggest and tasted the best.

There are a million more stories to be told of Pat, and I’m sure that many of them will be told this afternoon. See you all there. God Bless.


*Note: The crowd was roaring with laughter at this point. Tom Flannigan, of course, was Ottawa’s Chief of Police at the time of the Gold Heist, while Tom Cavanaugh was a very good friend of Paddy’s over the years. 🙂

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