[UPDATE: A memorial mass for Tim Mitchell will be held Thursday, Jan. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at Old St. Patrick's Church, 700 W. Adams St. ].
Timothy J. ( Tim ) Mitchell, 49, former Chicago Park District chief and Mayor Richard M. Daley aide, died Dec. 3 of natural causes. Mitchell was a gay man, but that fact was not widely known to the general public.
Political consultant Tom Elliot relayed Mitchell's death to Windy City Times.
Mitchell was born Jan. 17, 1965 in Chicago and grew up in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood. A graduate of Brother Rice High School, Mitchell got his start in politics while still in school as a member of student government. He attended Loyola University, earning a bachelors of science degree in political science.
Mitchell is survived by his fraternal twin brother Tom ( Karen ) and nephews Ryan and Jimmy. He was preceded in death by his parents Tom ( football coach at Brother Rice High School ) and Mariann Mitchell.
As CEO and Superintendent of the Chicago Park District from 2004 to 2011, Mitchell was the driving force behind many park improvements. Mitchell was also instrumental in the creation of the Center on Halsted ( COH ). To ensure that the COH could be built Mitchell sold the landwhich was the property of the Chicago Park Districtfor $1.7 million, less than its assessed $5 million value, because the Center did environmental mitigation, according to Center CEO Modesto Valle.
Mitchell was also with the Park District when the Gay Games VII were held in Chicago in 2006, and he supported the project by allowing rental of large numbers of park fields and facilities.
A longtime Daley aide, Mitchell began his career as Managing Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Human Services in 1989 and in 1998 he became the First Deputy Commissioner of the Department of General Services and was promoted to Commissioner the following year. Just prior to his stint at the Chicago Park District, Mitchell worked in the Mayor's office as Chief of Infrastructure and Operations.
Mitchell received the Kathy Osterman Award for public service in 1994. He also served as a board member of the City Parks Alliance, the Parkways Foundation, Lincoln Park Zoo, the Art Institute of Chicago, After School Matters, the Boys and Girls Town of Chicago, Gateway Green, Ravenswood Park Townhome Association, Special Children's Charities and Neighborspace. Mitchell was also the World Commissioner representing North America for the International Federation of Parks and Recreation and national co-chairman of the National Recreation and Parks Association.
"He was a behind-the-scenes guy, but a person to go and get things done," said 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney. "He was the link between the city and Chicago Public Schools in making sure that the 23rd Police District station remained at Addison and Halsted, which is extremely vital to the LGBT community and the Lakeview community at large."
"Tim and I were friends for over 20 years," said Ken Meyer, longtime friend and Daley administration alumni. "He was such a wonderful person with a big smile. When he would walk into a room he would know about 50 percent of the people but he wouldn't be happy until he knew at least 65 percent of the people by the time he left. He was a listener whose sole professional goal was to find solutions to problems that arose while working for the city. His accomplishments at the Chicago Park District provided many Chicagoans with fantastic park facilities in the neighborhoods and along the lakefront. He was especially proud of bringing Lollapalooza to Chicago, transforming Northerly Island into a natural green space, creating neighborhood play lots across the city and modernizing the Kathy Osterman Beach House ( Hollywood Beach ). He was always in work mode. Even if it was in the middle of the night he felt like he needed to go out and check on park district property after particularly damaging storms."
"I've known Tim for a very long time both personally and professionally. He was a very dedicated person especially to the city of Chicago and making sure the citizen's got their money's worth," said John Doerrer, a longtime friend and co-worker. "Most folks don't realize how much he did to make Mayor Daley's vision come to fruition especially the reconstruction of the lakefront. Chicagoans will never realize the extent to which he made this city more livable. He loved watching kids play in the very parks he helped realize."
"Tim had a big heart and was incredibly generous and loyal to everyone he met. He was loved dearly by anyone who had the privilege of being his friend or working with him," said friend and former co-worker Sheila O'Grady. "He was a great public servant and exceptional manager. He ran a very large, complex public agencythe Park Districtduring a difficult financial period. Tim did this while keeping the budget in the black while never once raising property taxes and at the same time managed to increase parklands and programming at a time when other cities and agencies across the country were reeling from the economic downturn. He took his responsibilities very seriously. Tim was the best. He was an amazing leader with great vision who loved Chicago."
"Tim was a huge part of the city for many years. When we did the deal to bring Lollapalooza to the city Tim didn't see just see Lollapalooza he saw it as an opportunity for the city to create a great cultural opportunity. Without him Lollapalooza wouldn't exist," said Charlie Jones, co-founder of c3 Presents ( which produces Lollapalooza ). "He was a great friend and we'll miss him."
"My first year in Chicago he picked me up in an Uber Cadillac with backstage VIP tickets to Lollapalooza," said Elliott. "We all had an amazing time together."
Services are pending.