May 13, 2016
Southern Torch (3661 articles)

DeKalb leaders honor the life of Billy Jack Mitchell

DeKalb leaders honor the life of Billy Jack Mitchell

Billy Jack Mitchell

Special to the Southern Torch DeKalb leaders honor the life of Billy Jack Mitchell, an iconic DeKalb County businessman and beloved member of the Sand Mountain community.

Note from the Editor:

On Monday, we posted the death notice of Mr. Billy Jack Mitchell on our website where it received more than 7,000 views in the first day and a half alone. We’ve received a number of phone calls and emails from our readers both thanking us and asking that we share more about Mr. Mitchell and his life. We wanted to do all that we could to honor the memory of a man so clearly respected and loved by our readers who knew him and others, not just on Sand Mountain, but throughout DeKalb County.

Southern Torch would like to thank former Plainview Basketball Coach Terry Mitchell (a DeKalb County legend in his own right), Rainsville Mayor Nick Jones, and Dr. Lelon Thompson for allowing us to share their words with you.


Billy Jack Mitchell: A true friend that will be missed by all

By: Coach Terry Mitchell, former Head Basketball Coach, Plainview High School

How many times a day do we meet someone who is going to make us feel better about our day and about life.

I wish there were more Billy Jack Mitchell’s. We shared last names but were not related. Without hesitation when I told someone my last name they ask immediately if i was related to Billy Jack. No I would answer, but he is a good friend and I taught his two kids.

Each time this occurred, the questioner would respond, “Billy Jack is a good man.” Losing Billy Jack has left so many of us more than but Alain with a hollow spot inside.

Billy Jack could become fast friends I believe with anyone. We of course became fast friends because he loved basketball as much as I. Forty-three years ago when I came to Plainview to coach, Billy Jack and Shirley along with a few others were our consummate fans.

Never did Billy Jack have a negative thing to say about coaching, the players, or the games. When one of our players (Gary Colvard) was selected to play in the Alabama High School All-Star game, a trip to Tuscaloosa was inevitable for the Mitchell family.

I could listen with Billy Jack for hours. His stories about ginning and selling cotton were not told as brag but if good fortune and how his father in law and Shirley made it work. He was so quick to give other people credit for any success he had, especially in the business world.

Saturday mornings 40 years ago were a special treat for me , it meant I would go to the Greek Gardens for breakfast and listen. Bill Doufexis, Truman HICKS, Jimmy Wells, and the unelected leaders of Rainsville would gathered for discussion about general state of the world. I still remember Billy Jack announcing he and Shirley’s 25th anniversary. (I thought he exceedingly old at the time). My favorite basketball story from Billy Jack ( he was a Basketball fan but was really a Plainview Fan), involved one of his customers and a good friend from a neighboring community. His friend was explaining to Billy Jack how much smarter their coach was than Plainview’s. Only Billy Jack could have said this and not hurt his friend feelings, but he answered him by saying, “Well, we really don’t want the smartest coach, we just want the winning coach!”

Only the Southern gentleman that Billy Jack Mitchell was could say that and make you smile.

I will miss you Billy Jack Mitchell. I will miss you a lot. I give thanks that God let me know you.

Honoring Billy Jack Mitchell, a true Rainsville establishment

By Rainsville Mayor Nick Jones

Billy Jack Mitchell has been a fixture of the Rainsville community since our city was founded in 1956. Rainsville City government was born at the Rainsville Cotton Gin owned by Billy Jack’s father and his three uncles and he was a true leader of our community his entire life. Billy Jack Mitchell is Rainsville through and through.

His business influence and success in bringing State Farm Insurance to this area is undeniable. Billy Jack is a big part of why Rainsville has seen such amazing growth in just a short span. I had the pleasure of knowing him and Plainview supporter State Farm to this area.

Billy Jack and the Mitchell family have always been close friends of my own family, particularly on the Kilgore side going back for generations, and we are all better for knowing him. He was truly dedicated to the Rainsville community—from the kindness and generosity he showed his friends and neighbors, to his unwavering support of Plainview School and athletics, to his active involvement and influence in the business community, and his faithful attendance at Plainview Church of God.

Billy Jack Mitchell was a living example of what it means to be a true leader in our community. I, along with the entire city will miss him greatly. The Mitchell family will be in our thoughts and prayers in the weeks and months to come.

In Memory of a Dear Friend

By Dr. Lelon Thompson

I became friends with B.J. when I moved back to Rainsville in 1988. My wife and I had purchased my mother and daddy home in 1975 and became clients of B.J.’s.

He and I did a lot of Quail harvesting with our shotguns. One of his favorite sayings “A bird would fly and I would shoot 2 times and miss.” Get ‘em ‘Doc.’” He and I on several occasions would asked Kings Restaurant to cook birds and we with our friends sit and enjoy this feast. Also Mountain Grill did the last one for us.

After most hunts we would have lunch together. Always a pray was spoken.

Rainsville has lost a good man. May our fathers in heaven help Shirley and family through this time of grief.

I will miss this gracious friend, our short visit, and the shot gunning together.

—Dr. Lelon Thompson

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