At The Ta­ble With re­mem­bers Big Tom Mitchell

The Phoenix - - COMMUNITY - By Bette Ban­jack Bette Ban­jack The Ta­ble Let Bette hear from you: ban­jack303@ver­i­zon.net. Search YouTube for “Look Who’s Cook­ing with Bette Ban­jack,” as well phoenixvil­lenews.com (search bar: Ban­jack) for this col­umn. Find Bette on Face­book by search­ing “

Frank and Bessie Mitchell’s fam­ily has and still is a part of my life.

As an only child, I grav­i­tated to this large fam­ily, hav­ing made friends with Mary Jane Mitchell Wag­ner in ju­nior high. The youngest boy of the nine Mitchell kids I knew was Tommy. The Mitchell aunts, un­cles and cousins be­came mine. Ad­di­tion­ally, my cousin, Kath­leen Fe­dor­sic, and Tom have been mar­ried for 47 years. So, I have it com­ing at me in many dif­fer­ent direc­tions.

Sadly, Tom passed away Oct. 13. Last year in De­cem­ber, I in­ter­viewed Tom and Kath­leen for At The Ta­ble With Mr and Mrs. S. Claus here in The Phoenix, Reporter & Item. I would like to share the in­ter­view with you once again.

It was the Christ­mas of 1969 when 18-year-old Tom Mitchell was asked to be a stand-in Santa Claus for the Royersford Jaycees. Af­ter just two times as Santa, he was hooked for a life­time and be­came the real deal. For 49 years un­til he un­of­fi­cially re­tired in 2008 and the of­fi­cially re­tired in 2011, he was Santa Claus.

In Au­gust 1970, he and Kath­leen Fe­dor­sic started to date and were mar­ried in 1971. Kath­leen be­came Santa’s driver. It was 1983 that she be­came Mrs. Santa Claus. When they were young, their chil­dren, Tommy and Wendy, were elves, Jin­gle and Belle. The love and joy of life was passed onto their five grand­chil­dren.

Known by all as “Big Tom,” he made it a mission to grow his belly so no pad­ding was needed. In 1970, when he pur­chased his first Santa suit, it was size XXL. Sev­eral suits later, he wore XXXXL.

This Mitchell fam­ily was a very busy fam­ily. Tom’s daily job was a car sales­man over the years. Kath­leen’s love of chil­dren had her car­ing for sev­eral chil­dren. Each child was like her own. Later, she went to work for Aetna, re­tir­ing in 2011.

In 2011, Tom lost his right leg below the knee. The Mitchells adapted to this life change. Tom, on his elec­tric scooter with his side-kick, Fan­nie, a shih tzu, could be found all over the place. There wasn’t a group or event, espe­cially in the Phoenixville area, that he wasn’t in­volved with. He was the am­bas­sador of Phoenixville. Tom and Kath­leen’s in­volve­ment was so great that it is im­pos­si­ble to name each and every one.

From 2010 to 2015, Tom and Kath­leen or­ga­nized Cos­tumes for a Cause. They lent body cos­tumes out for char­i­ta­ble events at no charge. This project was handed over the the PAHS Honor So­ci­ety and is still go­ing strong.

In 2015, he fell and broke his left leg so se­verely that it needed to be am­pu­tated. But Tom al­ways seemed to bounce back. He then used an elec­tric chair. With his pros­the­sis, he used a walker around the house. Kath­leen once be­came the driver, as Tom went to dial­y­sis three times a week for a lit­tle over four hours each time. He needed to slow down some­what. So with re­tire­ment, they moved to Royersford to a new place that suited his needs. Tom was of­ten found on his chair with Fan­nie rid­ing around Royersford, weather per­mit­ting.

Tom knew his way around the kitchen. His love of food was im­por­tant to him.

Tom’s heart was the largest part of him, which he shared and spread to all who were around him.

May he rest in peace.

Big Tom Mitchell

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