There is a void in the disability community that will never be filled. This week many organizations and individuals with disabilities mourn the loss of Eric Mitchell. Eric has been a strong voice for more than 20 years for those who otherwise might not be heard.
Eric spent over 20 years working at the Disability Law Center. His colleagues there expressed their sentiments via Facebook: “The DLC is deeply saddened by the passing of our dear colleague and friend Eric Mitchell. His passing is an enormous loss for our community. Eric was a tireless advocate and an unwavering voice of empowerment for people with disabilities. He was the embodiment of our core values of integrity, compassion and impact and always challenged us to do more and do better on behalf of the most vulnerable among us. He will be greatly missed, but the impact of his legacy will live on.”
Eric also had a consulting company, “Fifth Ocean” where his legacy will be the meaningful work that he did for nonprofit agencies who used his services. In working with nonprofits, it was Eric’s goal to help them create and live by values that reflected significance. Eric connected personally with nonprofit organizations and helped in their development by helping leadership learn to communicate with their teams openly and transparently.
One such organization, “Kids Who Count”, honored Eric on their social media page: “We are saddened by the loss of this beautiful person. Eric Mitchell supported several nonprofits and Kids Who Count is deeply grateful to have been one of those fortunate organizations. His guidance and strategic thinking helped us during critical periods of growth and change. Eric’s passion for our mission was contagious and his dedication to children with special needs will live on in our work.”
Executive Director of Kids Who Count and close friend of Eric’s, Kelsey Lewis personally added, “Eric touched so many through his tireless dedication to the non-profit community.” Eric was involved in other organizations such as Art Access, The Road Home, Community Action and Fourth Street Clinic to name a few.
Another very close friend and previous colleague, Fraser Nelson, Vice President of Business Innovation at Salt Lake Tribune, said that Eric was “born with a spine of justice running through him.” When asked what to describe what drew Eric to the disability community she stated, “His passion was always there, it was in utero.”
Associate Director of Community Outreach at the Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism, Laurie Bowen said of her close friend, “Eric walked the walk. He not only helped those in need but also helped the people who were helping them.” She continued, “Eric helped people be more confident in themselves and taught them to have an impact on others.”
With such a legacy, it is clear that no one person will ever come along and replicate all that he accomplished. But I think that Eric can rest peacefully knowing how many people he corroborated with who are committed to passing on his passion and commitment to a community who will never have enough people advocating for them.
Peter Strople said, “Legacy is not leaving something for people, it’s leaving something in people.” Eric, after talking to so many of the people’s whose lives you have touched, your legacy lives on.