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Pinkye and Family
Pinkye Simpson Mitchell graduated from Normal in 1933.
Centenarian honored with Nth Degree
Many native had careers in education, homemaking, social service
Leah Jackson

NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University honored one of its oldest living graduates with a special recognition in celebration of her 100th birthday. Pinkye Simpson Mitchell of Natchitoches was presented with the Nth Degree, a special honor that recognizes individuals who go the extra mile in meritorious service to mankind and whose professional responsibilities and various other roles in making the world a better place are carried out to the Nth Degree.

 “It is with great pride we confer this degree, one of exceptionally high honor to Mrs. Mitchell,” said NSU President Dr. Randall J. Webb. “Along with her, we honor her family and extended family.” 

Mitchell was born April 3, 1914, and spent her childhood on a large farm on Middle Creek Road near Many. After graduating from Many High School in 1931, Mitchell, who was one of 12 children, became the first person in her family to attend college. She lived in the dormitory at Normal for a time and worked in the dining hall to help with tuition expenses. She later commuted from Many and earned her teaching certificate, which specialized in kindergarten-primary, in two years. Her teaching certificate is dated Feb. 6, 1933, and is good for her lifetime.

Mitchell began teaching at Alliance School near Zwolle in 1933. She married Willard Mitchell in 1936 and continued to teach until shortly before her first child was born in 1937. She was a homemaker until the youngest of her seven children was five years old and went to work for the State Welfare Department from 1949-1973. She still remembers the exact dates she went to work and retired, as well as former coworkers.

Mitchell’s student days at Normal were quite different from the modern student’s. Students were required to sign in and out to leave campus and see the dean if any of the strict rules of behavior were broken. She displayed a hand-written essay for professor John Ropp on “A Well-Rounded Vocabulary” in which one misspelled word earned her a B +.

“We are pleased to recognize Mrs. Mitchell with the Nth Degree in honor of the remarkable milestone of reaching 100 years of age,” Webb said.

Mitchell’s children are the late Charles Mitchell, Louise Martin and husband John, Bruce Mitchell and wife Nita, Glenda Davis, Kerry Mitchell, Keith Mitchell and Kent Mitchell and wife LeAnne.