Arlene Erickson Mitchell, 82, died on May 17 in North Palm Beach, Fla., surrounded by her family. The daughter of Lenora Olson Erickson and Lewis E. Erickson, a minister, Mrs. Mitchell was born on the family farm in Maryfield, Saskatchewan, Canada, where they raised cattle and grew wheat.
After graduation from Maryfield High School, she moved to Minneapolis, Minn., where she attended business school and worked as a stenographer. Her passion for music and natural ability to play the piano had begun as a child, and continued throughout her life.
In 1966, she joined the U.S. Foreign Service as an executive secretary for the U.S. Agency for International Development. For the next three decades she served in assignments around the world, including postings in Liberia, Ethiopia, Korea, Thailand, Pakistan, Syria, Niger and Egypt. She received the distinguished Meritorious Honor Award from the Department of State for her devotion to duty under extremely hazardous and difficult circumstances in Islamabad.
In 1982, she married the love of her life, Stanley D. Mitchell. She enjoyed fishing trips with her husband, both overseas and with the West Palm Beach Fishing Club. Mrs. Mitchell loved to garden and grew broccoli, hot peppers, tomatoes and flowers. One of her true passions was cooking, and she prepared many gourmet meals for friends and family. She often spent hours poring over recipes to choose the best ingredients and cooking methods.
Throughout her years in the Foreign Service, she loved entertaining and hosting parties, enjoying the company of other expatriates and local community members. Parties often involved piano playing, singing and delicious meals. Friends and family members remember her graciousness, especially when welcoming people into her home. They recall her spunky, adventurous spirit and wry sense of humor that brought laughter and joy to those around her.
Following her retirement from the Foreign Service, Mrs. Mitchell lived in North Palm Beach for nearly 30 years.