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An Unexpected Legacy

An Unexpected Legacy

Paul and Audrey Mitchell enjoyed gardening, weeding and spending time outside together.

The Middletown couple especially loved sharing what they’d grown. Paul would give tomatoes to chefs and wait staff at his favorite eateries, and the two would often take vegetables to the doctors and nurses who provided their care over the years.

The couple’s love of sharing continued after they passed away (Audrey in 2011 and Paul in 2019). In their will, the couple once again gave back to health care—but not in the form of vegetables. This time, Paul and Audrey Mitchell donated $1.6 million to the Winchester Medical Center Foundation.

“I was shocked,” said family friend Scarlett Copp. “But I know they wanted their estate to do some good. And what better place than Winchester Medical Center?”

Giving Back Through Valley Health

Each of the six Valley Health hospitals has a Foundation or Development Fund that supports important healthcare initiatives and the enhancement of the care that Valley Health provides. From a successful $10 million cancer center campaign to providing bike helmets to children at health fairs, Valley Health’s Foundations and Development Funds make a philanthropic difference. In the past 13 years, more than $35 million has been raised through the financial contributions of individuals, organizations and businesses.

Jenny Grooms, Executive Director, Valley Health Foundations, said charitable gifts like the Mitchells’ can enhance, expand or create services that might not normally be possible. Grooms called the Mitchells’ gift transformational.

“Gifts through someone’s estate can make a huge impact,” Grooms said. “It can create a legacy. Some believe you have to have this impressive balance in an account, when in fact, there’s an array of options to help people create a legacy of their own.” She added, “It’s a privilege to be a part of carrying on someone’s story of health and healing for generations to come.”

Paul and Audrey: An Unassuming Couple

Paul and Audrey Mitchell were both graduates of Warren County High School, where Paul played football and was part of the 1956 undefeated team. After high school, he played for the Shepherd University Rams. Paul went on to work as a welder for General Motors Corporation and was a veteran, having served with the U.S. Marines and the West Virginia Air National Guard, where he served as a shooting coach. Paul and Audrey enjoyed a shooting range on the couple’s property. He also loved gardening and had even created his own irrigation system.

Audrey enjoyed her pet dogs, the outdoors, shopping for antiques and working on the couple’s farm. She was an excellent cook. She went to work right out of high school, where she met Mary, mother of Bill Copp, who is chief of police for Stephens City. Mary and Audrey remained friends for more than 50 years, and the Mitchells soon became family for Bill and his wife Scarlett. Upon the Mitchells’ passing, their dog, BB, went to live with the Copp family.

“Paul and Audrey were wonderful people,” Scarlett said. “They believed in hard work and living below your means. They didn’t have children, but Paul was almost like a father to me.”

A Gift for Nursing Care

Paul passed in May 2019, preceded by Audrey eight years earlier. Upon his passing, the Winchester Medical Center Foundation was informed of a bequest the Mitchells had made. Grateful for the care they had received over the years, the couple wanted to help others and provide support for the nurses who had helped them along the way. They bequeathed most of their estate to a fund to support this.

The Paul and Audrey Mitchell Fund will be used for nursing education, at the request of the Mitchells. The estate totaled more than $1.6 million through a mix of properties, retirement accounts and other assets.

“You just wouldn’t know it from knowing them,” Scarlett said. “They were just good people living wisely and helping others.”

For more information on the Legacy Society at Valley Health Foundations or how you can support health in your community, visit or contact Jenny Grooms at 540-536-2387 or