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Left: George considers his ten children and many grandchildren his greatest accom- plishment, but he gives his late wife, Cynthia, credit for raising their


large family. Right: George Mitchell’s parents were both Greek immigrants that met in the U.S. George attributes much of his suc- cess to his father, Mike Mitchell. “He put his four kids through college in t he middle of the Great Depression.”


I dive right into the interview; if I was going to ask half of the


questions I wanted, I couldn’t dally. Mr. Mitchell’s professional resume reads like something from an Entrepreneur’s Hall of Fame. His bio contains over two pages of awards, achievements, and accolades. How could I ever summarize all this man had accom- plished? George jumps to my rescue and starts—at the beginning.


In his own words… “I was born in May 21, 1919, in Galveston. My mom and dad were


both Greek Immigrants. My dad immigrated through Ellis Island, moved to Houston, and took a job for the railroad. When asked what his name was, my father said, ‘Michael Savvas Paraskevopoulos.’ T e foreman swore, took one look at my dad, and said, ‘Not anymore. If you’re going to work for me, that name will never do. Your name will be Mike Mitchell.’ And from that day on, we became the Mitchell family. Eventually my dad and his brother set up a shoe shining business across from the Rice Hotel downtown. “My mother was a Greek beauty queen who migrated through


Tampa, Florida. Back in those days, there were these underground Greek newspapers that were printed in every major city. My dad read an article about a beautiful pageant contestant in Tampa. He said to his brother, ‘I’m gonna marry that girl.’ So my dad cuts the article out and keeps it in his shirt pocket until he saves enough money to travel by train to Florida to meet this girl. When he gets to Tampa and fi nds her, she tells him that she is engaged to someone else. My dad says, ‘Well, I didn’t come all the way down here to go home alone.’ And that was that. She broke her engagement and traveled back to Texas with my dad. T ey settled in Galveston and raised four kids. “I always attribute so much of my success to my dad. He was the


most persistent man that I know. He only had an eighth grade education from Greece and no formal education in the US. He had


street smarts, he was a hard worker, and he believed in a better tomorrow. I was so proud of my dad; he put his four kids through college in the middle of the Great Depression. He made sure that we always had what we needed. I don’t mean that he always earned the money, but he made sure he always had the money. You see, he worked all he could, but he was not above negotiating for what he didn’t have. I remember Sam Maceo owned the Balinese Room, back in the day when gambling here was legal. My dad would go out to see Sam and say, ‘Sam, you’re a very wealthy man. I’m not a wealthy man, but I got a boy in college who’s real smart, and he needs your help. My son George is top in his class at A&M, but they are going to throw him out if we don’t pay his tuition. George needs your help, Sam.’ And just like that, Sam would give my dad $100. Now, I only ever saw $50 of that, because my dad was a smart guy, and he charged brokerage fees.” George continues, “I went to A&M and was in the Corp of


Engineers. WWII was raging, and it seemed inevitable that I was >>


TexasLiVE | Volume 6 Issue 1 27


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