Roger Kenneth Mitchell
March 22, 1938 – July 14, 2022
Roger Kenneth Mitchell was born March 22, 1938 in Waukegan, IL, and went to be with his Lord on July 14, 2022, aboard the cruise ship Ruby Princess while docked in Juneau, AK.
Spending his youth in Trona, CA, Roger spent many hours exploring the surrounding mountains and desert near Death Valley, ultimately leading him to earn a university degree in geology.
Following graduation, he began following another passion, that of travel to and exploration of other countries, expanding his thirst for knowledge and experiencing world cultures different from his own. His love of travel continued until the end of his life, even though the menace of Parkinson’s Disease wracked his body, making mobility more difficult. The day before he passed away, he enjoyed the wonder and beauty of the Yukon Territory, adding another place to his long list as a member of the Travelers’ Century Club.
Roger believed in helping his fellow Americans and world neighbors. He served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves as a medic. He joined the Peace Corps in its formative years and spent two years helping the indigenous people of the 12,000-foot-high Altiplano plateau of Bolivia build a water system to better their existence.
Service to the members of his community continued while he lived for a number of years in Bishop, CA, where he was a member of the Inyo County Sheriff Department Search and Rescue Team, using the experience he gained while climbing many of the Sierra Club 100 Peaks and twice hiking the John Muir trail on his own.
After moving his family with three sons to Oakhurst in 1980, Roger became a Scout leader, sharing his knowledge and love of the mountains and nature with the boys in the troop and camping with them each summer at Camp Chawanakee.
As Roger commuted to Fresno every day on the dangerous two-lane Highway 41, he came upon many accidents. After one particularly deadly day, he decided to train as an EMT in order to feel like he might help in the future. He joined the Madera County Volunteer Fire Department at Oakhurst Station 12, where he ultimately served as the Captain for 16 years.
Under his knowledgeable leadership, the volunteer company grew in numbers to provide excellent service to the community of Oakhurst and County of Madera, with many firefighters choosing to continue the profession with CalFire.
Roger was awarded the Madera County Firefighter of the Year in 1980 for his role in leading the fundraising and purchase of the first automatic external defibrillator A.E.D. in the county fire department for the engine at Station 12. A life-saving piece of equipment now seen literally everywhere groups of people gather, it was a game changer back in 1980.
Exploring was part of Roger’s nature from an early age, and he began to share his experiences in the 1970s by writing for off-road magazines, encouraging his readers to follow his lead in exploring their surroundings. He wrote booklets that guided off-roaders to follow jeep roads in the forests of the Sierra Nevada and the deserts of Death Valley and Joshua Tree.
Upon reaching retirement, he was able to once again focus on his passions for exploration and writing, traveling far-flung trails with Loris to new destinations in California and Nevada. Together they created Track and Trail Publications and published eleven 4×4 trail guides. Through these guidebooks Roger will continue to lead his readers down roads to exciting new adventures, teaching them about the history, natural wonders and respect for the environment.
Roger is survived by Loris Mitchell, his wife of 44 years; daughter Susan Scammon and her husband Mike; sons Lawrence Ott, his wife Jennifer, Jeran Ott, his wife Elizabeth, and Andrew Mitchell; sister Betty Kuehn; granddaughter Colette Ott; and many friends who remember him fondly. He was preceded in death by his grandson Dallas Dituri.
A service will be held at Oakhill Cemetery on Friday, July 29, 2022, at 1 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to Fresno Flats – Sierra Historic Sites Association (fresnoflatsmuseum.org).