By Lanier Laney
Abby and Patrick Mitchell were both born in Beaufort and were destined to be together. But Abby’s family moved to Columbia when she was 6 and it wasn’t until 15 years later that fate brought her back to Beaufort where she and Patrick met, fell in love and were married. Their adorable son Parker started at Beaufort Academy this week as the “Littlest Eagle” in the school’s Pre-K 2-year-old class.
Abby’s parents were both educators. Her mom taught at Beaufort High where her dad was also a coach. They continued teaching after their move to Columbia to help Abby’s aging grandmother.
Meanwhile, back in Beaufort, Patrick — the son of Red and Marjorie Mitchell — was growing up. Marjorie ran the popular House and Garden Gift shop on Lady’s Island along with her mother-in-law for years. Red Mitchell was president of Mitchell Brothers, Inc., a company he ran along with his brothers and cousins. Patrick joined the firm after getting a degree in Business Management from Presbyterian College. Today, Patrick, his brother Cecil and cousin Jason Hincher represent the third generation to run the company.
Abby got a degree in Early Childhood Education at Clemson and found her first teaching job back in her beloved Beaufort at Coosa Elementary where her fun spirit made her a popular teacher.
Says Abby, “I met Patrick my second year of teaching here — the rest is history!” Adding, “When Patrick asked me to marry him, he was so nervous and random with his speech, I thought he was breaking up with me.”
They just happily celebrated their sixth anniversary together. Says Abby with a smile, “For our anniversary I gave a nod to the traditional gift of iron and had Patrick’s old golf clubs cut down to toddler size and regripped for Parker. So in actuality, I gave him a gift that wasn’t really for him — and yet he still loves me!”
Abby spent 10 years teaching multiple grades kindergarten through third at Coosa Elementary, where she was named Teacher of the Year in 2012-13. She now teaches at Beaufort Academy, and started the new school year with her son this past Monday. “Patrick and I were sort of in a race to see who would get to Instagram Parker’s first day of school picture first. I, of course, won as I took the pictures and held them hostage until I had time to post them. I guess that shows how obsessed we are with our son,” says Abby with a laugh.
About her philosophy of teaching, Abby says, “Basically, I want my students to love coming to school each day and have plenty of fun while learning at the same time. I only have them for a year and I want to teach them as much as I possibly can in that short amount of time.”
She adds, “The staff and students at BA are just great! It’s because of them I enjoy every second of what I do.”
Patrick also pitches in by deep-frying turkeys for Abby’s class every year for her Thanksgiving Feast.
Mitchell Brothers, Inc. is an award-winning government contracting company that has successfully completed hundreds of projects for multiple military installations in Beaufort and the surrounding areas along with hospitals, churches and forestations. The business was started in 1946 by Patrick’s grandfather and his three brothers who had recently moved to the small, barely developed (at that time) coastal town of Lady’s Island.
Says Patrick, “I enjoy working with my brother and cousins as part of a family business that has had a 69 year history of doing things the correct way. The second generation before us worked very hard to build Mitchell Bros. up to where it is today, and put us into a successful position. I credit our great team of hard-working employees to that legacy.”
He also credits the company’s clients. “I had a smart man once tell me that in the construction business, no matter how good you are, often your success is based on the success of the clients you work for,” says Patrick. “Mitchell Brothers has been very lucky to serve many great clients throughout our history and we could not be successful without them. The United States Navy, Beaufort County School District, Beaufort County, Bluffton Fire District, Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services, Beaufort Memorial Hospital, and Grayco Inc. are some of the clients we continue to enjoy working with to this day.”
As far as sports, Patrick has always been an avid golfer. Abby says her main “sport” now is strolling Parker over the bridge on weekends to visit the coffee or bagel shop.
The two are also active in the community. Patrick has served on the boards of the Beaufort County Storm Water Utility, the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club, and the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee. Both he and Abby have been big supporters of Friends of Caroline Hospice’s Festival of Trees fundraiser for the past eight years where Abby has won several times for her innovative and clever tree designs.
As for the future, the Mitchells say they look forward to “introducing baby Parker to all the natural beauty that is Beaufort and all the great people here!”