Rusty Mitchell passed away peacefully to be with his Lord and Savior on Saturday, February 25, 2023 with his family by his side.
He was born Russell Duncan Mitchell to parents Beulah (Duncan) Mitchell and Homer Mitchell on June 1, 1942 in Phoenix, AZ. They moved to Southern California when he was a young boy. After a spectacular gymnastics career in high school, he became a 10 time All- American while competing in Southern Illinois under coach Bill Meade. A 1964 U.S. Olympian in Tokyo, he was credited with executing the first double-back somersault in Olympic history. In 1966, Rusty moved to Albuquerque as the head coach for the University of New Mexico Men's Gymnastics team. He built a successful program producing 16 NCAA individual event champions and 53 All-Americans. Rusty was a tenured Assistant Professor at UNM and taught in the Physical Education Department for 50 years.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and brother, Homer Lee Mitchell. Rusty is survived by his wife of 50 years, Shayleen; son, Russell Duncan "Rusty" II (Nancy) of Macon, GA; daughter, Mary Nicole "Nikki" Mitchell; and son, Chad Mitchell (Yenny) of Albuquerque, NM. His beautiful grandchildren are Taylor and Chase Holley of Albuquerque, Duncan and Carter Mitchell of Macon, GA and Luna Mitchell of Albuquerque. Rusty is also survived by several beloved family members, devoted athletes, and loving friends who all will feel his loss terribly.
A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, March 18, 2023, 3:00 p.m., at the University of New Mexico Johnson Main Gym (East entrance) and open to the community with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Coach Rusty Mitchell Endowed P.E. Teacher Scholarship fund at: UNM Foundation, 700 Lomas Blvd NE Bldg 2, Albuquerque, NM 87102 or visit www.unmfund.org/fund/coach-rusty-mitchell/