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Sam W. Mitchell

Inducted 1991 (charter class)

“Big Sam,” as he was known for more than 40 years of state service, began his coaching duties at Campbellton High School in 1952-53. Mitchell’s legendary basketball coaching career got off with a bang with a first-year season record of 24 wins and only two losses. His coaching job was short-lived at Campbellton, however, as he was called to service in the United States Army.

Returning home from military duty, Mitchell established himself at Vernon High School, where he completed an overall career record as a basketball coach of 396-59. As a football coach, Mitchell compiled an impressive record of 113 wins and only 17 losses.

He distinguished himself as the only coach in Florida to coach both the basketball and football All-Star Games. He was chosen Florida Coach of the Year in 1957, and in football in 1960-61. Mitchell’s basketball team won the state basketball championship in 1957.

Mitchell was appointed principal of Vernon High School during the school year 1967-68 and served until 1977. He was elected to the Board of Directors of the Florida High School Activities Association from 1968-1975, and was elected vice-president form 1975-1977.

Mitchell served in the Florida Legislature for more than 20 years, receiving many legislative awards. He completed his term as speaker pro tempore during the 1988-1990 sessions. After retiring in 1994, he worked with the Florida Lakes Department for three years.

Mitchell was born Aug. 2, 1929, in Chipley, Fla. He married Nellie Henders on Sept. 4, 1951, and they had two children, Brenda and Sammie Jean. After retirement he settled down in Vernon, where he ran a small seafood business as a hobby, which allowed him to make new friends until his death in November 2003.