Tuesday, November 10, 2009
In Honor of My Dad
"The end of an era was marked this last Tuesday with the passing of one of Exeter's great citizens.
Robert 'Bob' Mixter passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Aug. 4 after a very brief illness and hospital stay. He was 87 years old. The name Mixter will be familiar to most long-time Exeter residents; it is the name that marked the family pharmacy that stood on the corner of Pine and E streets for most of the 20th Century.
Bob was the last member of the Mixter druggists that owned and operated the landmark business. The family drugstore was established by Bob's grandfather Frank W. Mixter in 1905, originally occupying a building a half block to the west of the better known site.
Frank Mixter had the two-story brick Mixter building built in 1909 and in the 1930s passed the family business on to two of his eldest sons, Norbert and Earl. Earl set up shop in Visalia, and Norbert continued the business in Exeter. In 1946, Bob joined the business with his father, later becoming a partner, and upon Norbert's retirement in 1973, Bob became owner of the store with his wife and fellow pharmacist Eleanor Mixter.
Bob was born on Feb. 25, 1922, the only child of Norbert and Mabelle Mixter. He attended Exeter Schools, graduating in 1940. He attended Visalia Junior College, Cal Berkeley and the UCSF School of Pharmacy. Upon graduation, Bob enlisted in the Army and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant; he was stationed briefly in Germany as part of the 970th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment, and was part of the post- war reconstruction.
At the end of his tour of duty, Bob returned to his hometown of Exeter to marry his college sweetheart and classmate Eleanor Oltmans. They were married on Oct. 20, 1946. While Bob began work at the family drugstore, Eleanor worked as a pharmacist when needed at the family business and for other pharmacies, including Porterville State Hospital. In 1952, Bob and Eleanor started a family with the birth of daughter Grace. Bruce followed in 1954, Jean in 1957 and Neal in 1959.
While active in the family business, Bob also found time to serve on the Exeter Union Elementary District school board, was a member of the local Masonic Lodge, and served as Lions Club treasurer for 25 years.
He was a life member of the Exeter Alumni Association and still met with his Class of ë40 friends.
In later years, he served in the First Presbyterian Church as a Deacon and Trustee. Even into his last week he faithfully attended to his duties at the church serving as an usher, proofreading bulletins and coordinating communion servers.
Bob loved the mountains. He grew up hiking and fly-fishing at the family cabin in Mineral King. Bob and Eleanor introduced their children to the mountains at an early age.
Some of the best childhood memories of Grace, Bruce, Jean and Neal involve summer trips up the long windy road in the back of dad's 1952 Ford pick-up.
In later years Bob and Eleanor enjoyed visiting the family cabin (from Mabelle's side of the family) in Wilsonia.
Bob was planning a trip up to the cabin with sons Bruce and Neal on the day he took ill.
Bob and Eleanor closed the family business in 1985, when Bob retired and Eleanor continued working as a relief pharmacist for other pharmacies in Tulare and Farmersville.
In 1991, while it was undergoing remodeling, the Mixter building was destroyed by fire.
Some of the highlights of Bob and Eleanor's later years together were a trip to the Holy Land, trips to Europe to visit Bruce and Jean, an Alaskan Cruise, and spending time with their children and grandchildren.
For their 50th wedding anniversary, they treated the entire family to a trip to Disneyland.
In 1998, Bob had the pleasure of helping to dedicate Mixter Park, honoring his grandfather and former State Senator F.W. Mixter, at the site of the family business and landmark building.
Bob was preceded in death by his mother and father, and in 2001 by his beloved wife and best friend Eleanor.
He is survived by his four children, Grace Ogas-Todd of Cleveland, Tennessee; Drs. Bruce and Julie Mixter of Austin, Colorado; Pastor Jim and Jean Newman of Exeter, California; and Neal and Bunny Mixter of Reedley, California.
He has eleven grandchildren, and was awaiting the arrival of his first great-grandson due the end of this month." (baby Jonah was born a week or so after Dad's death)