On New Year’s Eve, we received the worst news a family could ever receive. We learned of the terrible accident that claimed the life of our son, brother and partner, Tim Mitchell. What is normally a time for celebration became a waking nightmare. Just as Tim was a traveler, so too are the rest of his family and, with the exception of Matthew, we had all visited Tim on Catalina Island. We dived and fished with him, explored the island with him, met his enormous group of friends, colleagues and band mates, and until recently met his beloved partner Michelle Rodriguez. This time, however, we traveled to Catalina from New Zealand, the UK, Hungary and Egypt to grieve and to celebrate Tim’s remarkable life with Michelle and his island family.
Though Michelle, his family, and all his friends knew how special Tim was, and how many things he had achieved since moving to the US, no-one really comprehended the sum of all of those things until we all gathered together to remember him. Expert diver, fireman, captain, harbor patrolman, photographer, musician, celebrant, mentor, and life and soul of the party. As emphasized by all who gathered to say farewell on the 8th of January, Tim contributed much to Catalina during his 14 years on the island. He found a place where he was happy and could live the life he wanted to live. We can all learn a lot from that life.
Equally, Catalina gave him the opportunity to become the great man that he was, and Tim continued to grow from strength to strength during his time here. During our short time in Avalon, we were struck and overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy, grief and support from the Catalina community. It is or have experienced elsewhere in the world. We were blown away by the number of people who gathered at Casino Point, by the size of the flotilla to Little Farnsworth, and by the participation in the consequent celebration at the “M” Restaurant. While nothing but time can ever heal the wound of the loss of such a remarkable man, your warmth and consideration helped us begin the process. The generosity and kindness expressed by those we met did so much to comfort us all in our grief. It was awe inspiring and is something that we will never forget.
We would like to extend our most heartfelt gratitude to everyone on Catalina for your incredible kindness, and also for the unreserved love you showed Tim, and the continuous support for Michelle. We would also especially like to thank Brian Bray for all his effort, time, and compassion during this difficult time. Catalina will forever hold a special place in our hearts, as it did in Tim’s. We will be back to bring Tim’s nephews so they can learn more about their amazing Kiwi-American uncle.
Letter to the Community From Tim Mitchell’s Family