Photo: Courtesy of Raymond Mitchell-Turner
This article is part of our Remembering Lives Lost project to honor victims in the Houston region whose families have chosen to publicly disclose their cause of death as COVID-19.
Richard Allen Mitchell loved disco — and Donna Summer’s “Last Dance,” in particular.
That was the song that was playing nearly three decades ago when, after a successful blind date, he and his future husband left a Houston-area club knowing that they wanted to spend their lives together.
Over the next 28 years, the couple traveled the world, fostered nearly three dozen children, adopted, married and built a family.
“A true love story,” said his husband, Raymond Mitchell-Turner.
Mitchell died from COVID-19 on May 11. He was 74.
“Everyone loved him,” Mitchell-Turner said. “He never met a stranger. He found good in everyone.”
Richard Allen Mitchell was born on Oct. 10, 1946 into a small Catholic family in Jersey City, N.J. He remained active in churches throughout his life.
After high school, he worked as a clerk on Wall Street for 17 years. He entered the Army and was stationed in Thailand during the Vietnam War.
But it was the later years of his life that his family and friends remember: After moving to Houston in the 1970s, he was hired as a financial auditor by Continental Airlines, a job that allowed him to travel the world while working.
He met Mitchell-Turner in 1992 and, a few years later, the couple completed training to become foster parents — a rarity for same-sex couples at the time.
They went on to foster 35 children and adopt five, including three siblings. In 2003, they became the first gay couple to be named foster parents of the year by Child Advocates of Fort Bend.
The couple married in 2016. They were active at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church in Houston.
Prior to his death, Richard Mitchell had started volunteering to read scripture at the church, and he and his husband led a small group at their home that focused on reviving relationships with God.
“He had a very strong faith and belief in God,” Mitchell-Turner said. “His church family meant the world to him.”
More than anything, he’ll remember his husband’s smile and love of life.
“Our journey together was about both learning and growing together,” Mitchell-Turner said. “And it was a journey that I do not regret. He was happy. His whole thing was about living and enjoying life, and just being able to fully express himself.”