The clock stopped on Col Mitchell’s cancer fight at 1.35am on January 7 but his legacy will keep ticking at the Albury-Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre.
Even in his final days, the Springhurst farmer rallied to raise $1300 to put a clock in every room at the new cancer centre, lifelong mate Danny Phegan said.
They will carry the Campfires Against Cancer logo as a legacy to inspire others to “take up the fight”, he said.
The cause had long been close to Col’s heart, with his mum, dad, nan and countless friends battling cancer before it claimed his own life.
In 2002 Col joined Danny for his marathon Campfires Against Cancer horse ride from Darwin to Tasmania, which raised more than $500,000 for cancer research.
Colin Murray Mitchell was born on December 9, 1956 at the Corowa District Hospital to parents Murray and Marie Mitchell.
He had limited schooling and was “more interested in horses and anything rural related”, according to Danny.
But the school of life – and a few hard knocks – had given Col an infinite capacity for seeing the best in people.
“Col always gave his best to everybody and he gave everybody more than one chance to be their best,” Danny said.
“At the same time he wasn’t shy of dishing out some on-the-spot justice if your best didn’t measure up.”
Those same big, strong hands could gently tame a brumby in less than 20 minutes, according to Danny.
“At heart he was a pacifist who loved animals,” he said.
“The women will remember him as a big teddy bear who gave the best hugs.
“The blokes will remember a strong loyal friend.”
Danny said Col would have enjoyed attending the raft of special cattle sales being held across the district this week.
He’s been remembered by The Long Riders Guild in France, the first International Association of Equestrian Explorers, for his epic cancer ride.
And this week the long-running Tumbarumba Pony Club Camp observed a minute’s silence to honour the well-known horseman.
Col enjoyed a beer and a chat but he adored his three grandchildren and loving partner Donna Fanning, whom he married recently.
He is survived by his daughter Mandy Ready and son Michael Mitchell.
Col’s favourite song was We’re all gonna die someday, by Kasey Chambers, and it will be played among family and friends at his wake.
There’s no doubt this humble hero will be singing along with them in spirit.
- His funeral will be held 1pm, January 17 at Lester & Son Wodonga.