Doris Mitchell


Doris Mitchell was born Doris Jean Ganges on August 17, 1930, the sixth of eight children born to Rowland Ganges and Mamie Young Ganges. She passed from this life peacefully in her sleep at the Riderwood Senior Community in Silver Spring, Md., on July 11, 2021.

courtesy Yvette Willis Marshall

Doris was born in Baltimore, and grew up in Philadelphia. Her mother died when she was 5 years old, and she was adopted by her uncle, Herman Ganges, and aunt, Melba Ganges, of West Chester, Pa., where she lived throughout her teenage years. Doris was known for her athleticism and love of the outdoors. She played field hockey and was an avid member of the Girl Scouts of America, in which she participated through her high school and college years. In 1952, Doris graduated from West Chester Teacher’s College and moved to Boston, where she became the district director of the Boston and Newton Girl Scouts Council.

Soon after she arrived in Boston, she met her husband-to-be, Joseph S. Mitchell Jr., a newly admitted attorney and Army veteran. On Dec. 2,1953, they married and began a partnership that would span more than 50 years. They had three children, Joseph III, Michael, and Marcene. The family moved to Newton, where Doris raised the kids before returning to work. From 1969 to 1974, she held various positions at Radcliffe College, rising from assistant director of admissions to assistant dean of the college. While working at Radcliffe, she spearheaded the historic conference “Black Women: Myth and Realities,” and earned a certificate in higher education administration from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration. She was honored for her work by the Harvard Black Alumni in 2006.

In 1974, Doris left Radcliffe to become the director of personnel for Abt Associates, a consulting firm with several hundred employees. She worked at Abt for 10 years, eventually becoming vice president of administration and personnel. In 1984, Doris left Abt, and became corporate EEO manager for Digital Equipment Corp. in Concord. She worked at Digital until 1992, rising to the position of U.S. affirmative action implementation manager, when she retired.

Doris maintained a very active social life and presence as a community volunteer. She was a member of the Links and Cirlcettes, and was co-founder of the nonprofit Blacks Helping Blacks, area chairwoman for the United Fund, regional coordinator for the United Negro College Fund Drive, and board member of many nonprofit organizations, including Freedom House, the American Museum of African American History, and the Ruggles Street Nursery School.

Throughout her married life, Doris and her family were part of the community on Martha’s Vineyard, where they spent almost every summer. This love of the Vineyard was passed down to her children and grandchildren, who retain the family home on the Island. Doris also passed on her love of sports. She was an avid tennis player, helping the Mitchell family win many of the famed Oak Bluffs tennis tournaments, and supporting their lifelong involvement in the sport.

In retirement, Doris and Joe moved to Sarasota, Fla., where they maintained an active social life. Doris lived in Sarasota for nearly 30 years, and was an active member of the community. She entertained, golfed, became an accomplished bridge player, was a supporter of the West Coast Black Theatre Troupe, and a dedicated volunteer and Friend of the Betty Johnson North Sarasota Public Library.

Doris leaves behind her three children, Joseph Solon Mitchell III, Esq., Michael David Mitchell, Esq., and Marcene Diane Mitchell; her grandchildren, Thomas Delano Broadwater III, Mitchell Ganges Broadwater, Maya Broadwater, and Erica Jones; daughter-in-law Carolyn Mitchell; her sister Annette Stradford; and a host of nieces, nephews; and extended Mitchell, Holland, Ganges, Stratford, Miller, and Broadwater family.