George LeCompte Mitchell, the St. Paul's School lacrosse coach who led the Crusaders to 10 conference titles and three private school crowns, died Saturday of complications from pneumonia at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson.
The Ocean Pines resident was 86.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Guilford, Mr. Mitchell was a 1944 graduate of St. Paul's. He led St. Paul's to the 1943-1944 A Conference basketball championship and earned All-Maryland honors.
As a lacrosse player, the close attackman helped the Crusaders win three straight championships and achieve an overall record of 40-2.
After graduating from St. Paul's, he enrolled at the Johns Hopkins University, where he lettered in lacrosse, football and basketball, and was named an All-American basketball player in 1950. He graduated from Hopkins in 1950.
"No one personified St. Paul's more than George. There were only three sports played there when he was there in the 1940s — football, basketball and lacrosse — and he was a star in all three," said Bill Tanton, a St. Paul's graduate and former longtime Evening Sun sports editor.
"In high school and at Hopkins, when George was on the field, they never lost a game when he played," said Mr. Tanton.
After graduating from Hopkins, he worked for the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. until joining the upper school faculty at St. Paul's in 1956.
Mr. Mitchell coached lacrosse from 1957 to 1963, when he left to coach the sport at the University of Baltimore from 1964 to 1968. He returned to St. Paul's and coached from 1969 to 1984.
In addition to teaching history and English, Mr. Mitchell coached lacrosse, football and basketball. During his years at the Brooklandville school, he amassed more than 200 lacrosse victories and 10 Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference championships.
"He was a giant at St. Paul's along with Mitch Tullai, longtime athletic director, and the late basketball coach Tom Longstreth, both literally and figuratively," said Charles W. Mitchell, no relation to the coach, who played junior varsity football and varsity lacrosse for three years under Mr. Mitchell.
At 6 feet 4 and weighing a trim 189 pounds, Mr. Mitchell was an impressive sight on the lacrosse field, where he was never without the attackman's stick that he would lean on.
"I used it to warm up my goalies," Mr. Mitchell told The Baltimore Sun in 2002 when he was inducted into the Greater Baltimore Chapter of US Lacrosse's Hall of Fame. "There was no other significance to it."
"He was always walking around with that stick in his hand that looked like a piece of kindling. He was demanding but not overbearing, and he did not yell a lot," recalled Charles Mitchell, who graduated from St. Paul's in 1973. "When he told you something, you listened. He was the voice from on high."
"You know the old saying, 'Find a job that you love and you'll never work a day in your life'? That was George," said Mr. Tullai, the former athletic director. "He was very good with the kids, and they liked him. And as a coach, he knew an awful lot about them because he had taught them academically, and he brought that to the field."
Mr. Tullai recalled Mr. Mitchell's willingness to help.
"He was terrific. He'd do any task and fill in and take any job," he said. "He was a good associate and just one heck of a good person."
Charles Mitchell, who was a defenseman, recalled one close game, after he had been beaten for a goal, throwing his stick to the ground in frustration.
"Coach Mitchell took me — a senior starter — out. He didn't yell at me — just said, 'That's not the way to win friends and influence people.' I was mad, but he was right. I've always remembered that."
Reflecting on his years as a lacrosse coach in the 2002 interview, Mr. Mitchell explained that he was "a pragmatist. I lived day to day. I always believed things weren't as bad or as good as they might seem at the moment in a game."
He said his coaching style was based on fundamentals.
"I taught fundamentals and liked the kids having fun," he said.
During his career, Mr. Mitchell coached 52 lacrosse players who went on to become college All-Americans. The award for St. Paul's best athlete was renamed the George L. Mitchell Cup in his honor.
When he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, Mr. Mitchell said in the interview, "I made [the Hall of Fame] for coaching, not playing."
During his years at St. Paul's, Mr. Mitchell lived on campus with his wife, the former Judy Clogg, who coached basketball, tennis and badminton and was dean of students at St. Paul's School for Girls, and their four children. After retiring in 1992, the couple moved to Ocean Pines.
Mr. Mitchell was an avid tennis player and had been a member of the Baltimore Country Club and the L'Hirondelle Club.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. March 3 at St. Paul's School, 11152 Falls Road, Brooklandville.
In addition to his wife of more than 50 years, Mr. Mitchell is survived by three sons, George LeC. Mitchell Jr. of Belmont, Mass., and Paul Mitchell and Steven Mitchell, both of Baltimore; a daughter, Dottie Mitchell of Baltimore; and six grandchildren.