On Saturday January 16, 2021, after a wonderful 98 ½ years our beloved mother, Geraldine Hirn Mitchell Belland, very peacefully passed away with all of her children around her. This is 44 years to the day after her husband, Robert, passed. We think this is a beautiful connection to our father.
She was born June 25, 1922 to Dr. Frederick J. and Olive (Arnold) Hirn at St. Francis Hospital in Escanaba. She attended St. Joseph Catholic School and graduated from Escanaba High School in 1940. She then attended business college and following her graduation she was employed at the First Wisconsin Bank & Trust Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin for several years. She then returned to Escanaba and was employed by Prudential Insurance Company where she became an office supervisor. She was united in marriage to Robert B. Mitchell Jr. on September 9, 1950. Together they raised five children.
Geraldine was a charter member of the Bonifas Art Center and a member of the Spinners and Weavers Guild. She studied art under Alice Powers, Escanaba’s prestigious art teacher. She loved art and took many courses offered by special Escanaba private programs and Bay College, always finding new interests.
Our mother was an avid reader with an extensive library. She enjoyed collecting cook books and recipes to experiment with on family and friends. She was an excellent seamstress, knitter and weaver who designed and tailored clothes for herself and her family. She loved beautiful things. She was especially proud of her daughter’s wedding dress and the first communion gowns she made for her granddaughters. She designed the gowns, wove the fabric and tailored the material.
She was a member of St. Charles Barromeo Parish in Rapid River. She sang in the choir with her second husband, Neil, and was a 30-year veteran of its pasty program.
Mom loved traveling and was especially thrilled with her trip to the Islands of Cypress, Rhoades and Crete with her daughter and her sister’s family.
As a family we spent winters downhill and cross-country skiing. Summers were spent at our cottage on Maywood Shores with all of its pleasures and activities. Her children’s friends were always welcome to “hang-out” or ski on our backyard hills on Lake Shore Drive in Escanaba during the winter months and boating, swimming, fishing, camping and playing tennis at Maywood Shores. Mom loved spending time in the beach house, entertaining, visiting with friends, reading, or just sitting listening and watching the changes and sounds of nature. The beautiful sunsets were also a major source of peace and Joy.
In 1986, she married Edward “Neil” Belland of Maywood Shores. They spent many good years together traveling and visiting all of the United States and many parts of the world. Sailing down the Blue Danube was a highlight. Neil passed away at the Bishop Noa Home in 2011.
She is survived by her daughter, Deborah M. Mitchell-French of Rapid River; four sons, Robert Baxter (Sandy) Mitchell III of Gilmer, TX, Frederick D. (Kathleen Gilbert) Mitchell of West Bend, WI, Thomas A. Mitchell of Rapid River, and John “Jay” (Suzanne) Mitchell of Fond du lac, WI; seven grandchildren, Nicki (Josh) Patrick, Andrea (Michael Smith) Mitchell, Baxter Mitchell IV, Brittany (Aaron) Francis, Katlyn (Taylor) Haack, Dr. Emily (Dr. Chris Smith) French, and J. J. Mitchell; great-grandson, Harvey Patrick; her sister-in-law, Phyllis Hirn of Wausau, WI; and many nieces and nephews.
Geraldine was preceded in death by her parents, Dr. Frederick J. and Olive (Arnold) Hirn; her brother, Frederick J. Hirn, Jr. of Wausau, WI; her sisters and their spouses, Mildred (Robert) Neimy of Kimberly, WI and Jeanne (Joseph) Schramm of Thousand Oaks, CA; her husbands, Robert Baxter Mitchell Jr. and Edward “Neil” Belland; and her great-granddaughter, Faye Haack.
In January of 2018, our mother moved to an apartment at Lakeview Assisted Living. The family would like to express their gratitude and thanks for the great care and compassion Daryl Miron, Amy Gagne, and the entire staff showed to our mother.
A private family funeral service will be held. Formal funeral services will be held at a later date. Burial will take place in the Gardens of Rest Cemetery in Wells, MI. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions in Geraldine’s name be directed to the William Bonifas Fine Arts Center, Escanaba, MI.
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