A story of faithfulness and love: Ed and Ruth Alma Mitchell
At the request of his granddaughter, Emily, Ed Mitchell '51, has begun to share stories of his journey in an autobiography. It's a story of faithfulness: of God's to Ed and his wife Ruth Alma (Mosher)'52; of the Mitchells' to God and to His calling.
It's a story of love: for Jesus Christ, for each other, for Malone University - which all seem inextricably intertwined.
Long before they met, Ed Mitchell and Ruth Alma Mosher had committed their lives to Jesus Christ. Ed recalls meeting Ruth Alma for the first time at a youth event during a Friends Church Yearly Meeting in 1946.
Ruth Alma remembers it differently. She had begun her studies at Cleveland Bible College (now Malone University) with three of her Mosher cousins: Ronnie, Chuck, and Ed.
They had previously agreed that if the men saw a woman they were interested in, Ruth Alma would learn more about her: if Ruth Alma saw a young man she was interested in, the guys would investigate.
On the first day of registration, the students were lined up in alphabetical order.
"I saw Ed," Ruth Alma remembers, "and I told my cousins to check him out."
Ed and Ruth Alma shared an intense love for learning and graduated with high honors.
In those days at CBC, students' education focused on full-time Christian ministry. Ed preached his first sermon at age 17 for Professor John Grafton. In October 1949 during a mission conference at CBC, the student body agreed to support two missionaries in India. Ed pledged $15, though he was earning only 65 cents an hour and paying all of his college expenses without help. But within a couple of weeks, the Daisy Avenue Church of God asked the college for a Sunday morning speaker, and Professor Grafton asked Ed to preach.
"I agreed to do it," Ed says, "and was paid $15 for the first Sunday, and they invited me back the next two Sundays! So while I had agreed to give $15 by faith, the Lord provided an unexpected $45."
During the summer between Ed's second and third year at CBC, he felt a call to the mission field. Ruth Alma was working as a nurse at University Hospital, and one weekend Ed went to visit her.
"While waiting for her, a thought flashed through my mind, 'some day, you may be walking these halls as a doctor.' Never before had any idea of my being a physician been in my thinking, but God used this," Ed recalls. "I wanted to be a preacher or missionary, and I felt that the missionary ought to earn the right to be heard, so medical missions began to make a lot of sense to me. I thought of this as a direction from the Lord and essentially said, 'yes.' I did ask the Lord if he would let me finish CBC before I started pre-med studies so I could couple preaching and medicine... and felt clear that this was, indeed, to be."
After earning their degrees at Cleveland Bible College and marrying on August 15, 1952, Ruth Alma went on to earn a degree in pre-medicine from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master of science in nursing from Case Western Reserve University, practicing nursing while Ed attended medical school.
Ed accepted a pastorate at Oehlhoff Memorial Methodist Church on the west side of Cleveland, which he maintained while studying two years at Baldwin Wallace University (then-college), one year at Case Western Reserve University (then simply Western Reserve University), four years at CWRU Medical School, a yearlong rotating internship at Metropolitan General Hospital of Cleveland, and two years of surgical residency at the Cleveland Veteran's Hospital. During this time, their sons James '89 and David were born.
When Ruth Alma was eight months pregnant with their youngest son, Dan '84, the family moved to Humacao, Puerto Rico, where Ed was the only surgeon in a busy 80-bed mission hospital.
Puerto Rico presented its challenges - none more challenging than the language barrier. However, a nursing student named Carmen became a great help to them. As a child, Carmen had spent six years in the United States with a missionary family from Indiana, so she knew English and often baby-sat the Mitchell children. When the Mitchells left Puerto Rico, Carmen returned to the United States with them to work as a nurse. She became like a daughter to the Mitchells, and eventually married Ronald Jones '71. Two of their children attended Malone, including Chicago-based actor, Scott Alan Jones '93.
In the latter 1950's, the Mitchells sensed God's leading to return to the United States. A year after returning home, their youngest, Janice '89 was born. Ed joined Alliance Community Hospital as a surgeon and opened a private practice, where he served the community until his retirement in the mid-1990's. The Mitchells moved into a modest home on Lorentz Street, just a few minutes from the hospital, where they live to this day.
Son Dan eventually followed in his father's footsteps; together father and son have performed surgery side-by-side in Kenya and Rwanda. Dan is married to Rhonda (Zepernik) '87, who earned a doctorate in nursing. The younger Mitchells also live in Alliance, where Dan is a surgeon at Alliance Community Hospital.
Outside the walls of the hospital, Ed served the Alliance community through church activities at Alliance First Friends, running fund drives for a new emergency room, and as past president of the Good Samaritan Clinic.
In 1969, he began what was to become 40 years of dedicated service on the Malone University Board of Trustees, including a number of years as chair and vice-chair - and uncountable hours of committee work and leadership. He served with presidents Everett Cattell, Lon Randall, Gordon Werkema, Woody Self, Ron Johnson, and Gary Streit. Daughter-in-law Rhonda now serves on Malone's Board of Trustees.
Outside the board room, the Mitchells are familiar faces to the community of Malone students, faculty, staff, alumni, and volunteers as they attend most concerts and theatre performances, football and basketball games, and alumni events. Ed has served students by delivering commencement addresses and chapel sermons and by volunteering as campus physician.
In 1976, Dr. Mitchell eagerly began a campaign to raise nearly a million dollars for the purchase and restoration of the old Stark County Barn - transforming it into the Randall Campus Center - one of the most unique student centers found on any university campus.
Ed and Ruth Alma have directly supported Malone University with exceptional financial generosity - the academic building "Mitchell Hall" is named in their honor. Mitchell Hall is attached to Regula Hall, where the most recent Mitchell alumna - Laura '10, RN, BSN - spent most of her time, carrying on the tradition of faithfulness, love, and service to Christ's Kingdom.