Irvine woman who celebrated her 110th birthday dies

Sally Mitchell admires her cake as she celebrates her 110th birthday on Nov. 25, 2014.

Sally Mitchell admires her cake as she celebrates her 110th birthday on Nov. 25, 2014.

(Susan Hoffman / Daily Pilot)

She not only lived a long life but a healthy one. Irvine supercentenarian Sally Mitchell, who celebrated her 110th birthday in November, died peacefully of natural causes on July 11.

“She had the kind of passing we can only dream about,” said her daughter, Suzanne Becker.

Mitchell had been living in a Turtle Rock assisted living home since 2012. Before that, she lived with her daughter in Irvine following the death of her husband, Howard, after 60 years of marriage. They had lived in the Bayside Village community of Newport Beach.

Becker said her mother had been in good health but recently was in a state of decline. She said Mitchell continued to read the daily papers and enjoyed the company of others up until a few days before her death.


Mitchell had no physical ailments and took no medication. Her short-term memory wasn’t as keen as her long-term memory and her hearing was limited to one ear, but her daughter insists Mitchell’s eyesight was better than hers.

Becker said she was so touched by the caring nature of the staff at Irvine Cottages, where Mitchell had been living. She was also comforted by a text from one of the caregivers from Heartland Hospice. It read, “God heard that Sally was having a hard time breathing. Come to me and I will give you a rest.”

Mitchell’s longevity and her interest in studies about how the body works prompted her daughter to raise the subject of organ donation. “Yes, of course I would be willing to do that,” her mother responded, according to Becker.

“It was her wish to donate her brain for research to the UC Irvine MIND program,” Becker said.

The gift is a helpful one, according to Linda Scheck, director of development and donor stewardship for MIND, the Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders.

“When someone donates their brain, it’s the greatest gift to science. The information is like gold,” Scheck said.

Besides Becker, Mitchell is survived by her sister, Maxine Baker of San Juan Capistrano; grandchildren Kelly Becker of Hawaii, Heidi Juenger of Bend, Ore., and Allison Cole of Fairfax; and a great grandson, Fisher Cole.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the UCI MIND program at 2646 Biological Sciences III,¿Irvine, CA 92697-4545.