Denison Trustee Lou Mitchell '57 Honored by Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame
Date of Event: March 17, 2009
Posted: March 17, 2009
The Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame has announced that Louis A. Mitchell, a Denison University Life Trustee, member of the Class of 1957, and native of Newark, will be inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame during its fourth annual banquet and ceremony on May 30 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
Hall of Fame recognition is reserved for those men and women who have best exemplified the highest traditions and strengths of basketball. Mitchell’s dedication to the sport—as well as to the community, his profession, and to his alma mater—have been demonstrated by his outstanding achievements, on and off the hardwoods.
Mitchell first took the basketball spotlight as a Newark High School standout in the early 1950s, where he played on one of NHS’s greatest teams. By 1957, when he graduated from Denison with a Bachelor of Science in physical education, he held 30 university records as a scorer and rebounder while averaging more than 20 points and 15 rebounds per game throughout his four-year varsity career. During the last three years of Mitchell's career, the Big Red won more than 70 percent of their games. He also held numerous Ohio Athletic Conference records. He was selected for both First Team All-Ohio Conference and All-State honors his sophomore, junior and senior years. He also was named All-Ohio Conference Player of the Year his junior year and was runner-up for that award his senior year, when he was injured.
Mitchell then became a partner in the Cleveland investment firm of Ball, Burge and Kraus until 1971, when he formed First Financial Group, which acquired County Savings Bank with 11 offices throughout Licking and Franklin counties. In 1996 the bank was sold, while Mitchell still serves as president of First Financial Group.
Mitchell’s thriving professional career, however, didn’t keep him away from basketball. In 1960 he played for the Cleveland Rosenblooms, which won the Ohio Amateur Athletic Union title that year. From 1960-62, he served on the board of directors of the American Basketball League’s Cleveland Pipers, which was coached by John McLendon, who also is being inducted with this year’s Basketball Hall of Fame class. Between 1966-68, Mitchell managed and coached the Columbus Comets of the North American Professional Basketball League, which provided many players to the National Basketball Association (NBA). In 1970, he was one of the original investors in the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, and he served on that team’s board of directors from 1970-80.
Mitchell has been extensively involved in the Newark community. In 1991, he and the late Jane C. McConnell, Denison class of 1956, co-founded the A Call to College program, which provides not only financial aid counseling, but has given more than $1.5 million in last-dollar grants to more than 2,000 Newark High School graduates since its inception. Since 2005, Mitchell has annually provided scholarships to more than 300 eighth-grade students from the Licking County area for travel at springtime to Washington, D.C., in hopes of inspiring their interest in the A Call To College program.
Mitchell has been a long-time benefactor of the Newark YMCA, having donated the Mitchell Recreation Center there and where he currently serves as president. And in 2008, the Mitchell-Reese Athletic facility was dedicated at Newark High School.
A loyal and generous supporter of Denison University, Mitchell has been a trustee since 1978 and a Life Trustee since 1998. He was elected to Denison’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1974 and received an Alumni Citation Award in 2007. The college’s Mitchell Recreation and Athletics Center was dedicated in 1994 in honor of generosity of the Mitchell Family. Their ties to the college stretch back to Lou’s great-grandfather, Jonathan Rees, who attended Denison from 1860-62, prior to fighting in the Civil War, and then returning to graduate in 1867. In addition to innumerable cousins, including Molly Jones Brown ’50, daughter-in-law of K.I. Brown, president of Denison from 1940 to 1950, and many other relatives who have attended Denison during the last 150 years. Three of his children are graduates: Judy Heffernan, class of 1984; Connie Moran, class of 1992; and Sandy Brown, class of 1992.
With his induction to the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame, Mitchell joins such legendary names as coach Bob Knight, Jerry Lucas, Gary Gradds, Bill Hoskett, Robin Freeman and Kate Smith (Ohio State university); Nate Thurmond (Bowling Green State University); Oscar Robertson and Jack Twyman (University of Cincinnati); and John Rinka (Kenyon College).
Lou is married to the former Cynthia Moore Halliday of Columbus. They have nine children and 28 grandchildren.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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