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When Dr. Carlton T. Mitchell ('43) retired after 33 years as a professor of religion at Wake Forest University, his family knew exactly how to honor him.
They made an initial gift to fund the Dr. Carlton Mitchell and Miriam Mitchell Scholarship Fund to benefit students in the Divinity School. And Dr. Mitchell has recently established a charitable gift annuity that will eventually be added to the scholarship. Mitchell served on the committees that recommended the establishment of the school and then helped lay the groundwork for its opening in 1999.
"The Divinity School had been a longtime dream of mine," said Mitchell, 86, a Winston-Salem resident. "When I retired, my family said, 'This is what your life has been given to.' The scholarship extends what my career has been about, and financially the gift annuity is good for me. I'm guaranteed a certain amount of money at a certain percentage for the rest of my life. I get a higher interest rate than I would from a CD."
Mitchell initially came to Wake Forest on a basketball scholarship after winning a state championship on the Campbell Junior College team. His senior year, he was "the leading scorer on the losingest team in Wake Forest history," he joked.
The Navy paid for his theological education at Yale, and he served as a Navy chaplain in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Korea, as well as stateside.
He worked as a pastor in Missouri and North Carolina, and did his graduate and doctorate work at Union Theological Seminary and New York University before returning to Wake Forest.
From 1961 to 1994, Mitchell taught church history, the psychology of religion, and some Bible classes and was chairman of the religion department for a decade. "I learned as much from the students as they did from me," said the former president of both the University Senate and the American Association of University Professionals.
Mitchell is a father of three and grandfather of four. Six members of the family are or were in education; of those, four have doctorates. His wife, Miriam, was one of eight teachers chosen to lead integrated classes in the Winston-Salem schools when segregation ended. The Mitchells were married 56 years until her death in 2000.
"My wife used to say, 'I never have to worry about you misbehaving,'" he chuckled. "No matter where we go, you run into somebody you know from church work or the University."
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