Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Katie Mitchell Ragsdale 1923 - 2002

I was born in Clinton, Davis County, Utah on March 8, 1923, the fourth child of James Earl Mitchell and Agnes Farrer Mitchell.  I grew up here on a farm having all the duties of children of a family in the country.

As I had an older brother and two older sisters to perform most of the house hold chores, my duties were to bring in the coal and kindling and to find the cows.  This meant letting them graze the ditch banks on our country road.  My father would turn them out and I would station myself about a mile up the road.  When they had grazed up to me I would turn them around and they would head for home.,

This left me lots of time to dream and whittle and to look closely at the beauty that is nature.  I would make holly back dolls and watch the beautiful birds.  I guess you would say I did truly enjoy the beauty that is around us and hoped some day to be able to draw, paint and create.

My father died when I was 13 (see death cert below) and my grandfather gave us a piece of land in the city.  We moved there and build a home three miles outside of Ogden, Utah.  That would be between Ogden and Salt Lake.  There I spent my teen years and attended Jr. High School and High School  graduating at 19.

I attended one semester at Weber College.  This was after my mother had worked hard to educate the brother and sisters and could finally send one of us to college.  After a semester I dropped out of school and went to work at the arsonal at hill Field.  I worked there till my marriage at 20 to a Texan, Vernon L. Ragsdale who worked for a construction company Robert E Mike, general contractor.

We lived in Ogden 9 months and were transferred to California where we lived in Santa Ana for one year, one year on Balboa Island and were then transferred to Lompoc, Santa Barbara Co.  We were there for 2 years where our only son Michael J. Vernon was born.

We were transferred to Los Alamos NM and lived there and in Santa Fe one year each.  My husband's company build the first atomic testing sight "on the hill." at Los Alamos.   From there we were sent back to California first living in La Crescenta then Glendale where we now live.

I had always wanted to plaint and would sign up for Tole Painting classes only to have them be cancelled because of lack of interest.  This was the late 1960s.

Finally found a teacher took four classes in Glendale and she moved back to San Bernardino, CA where she had a shop.  I began driving 1 1/2 hours each way by myself until I met a friend who lived half way.  Then we shared the ride.  I learned beautiful blended method from her and a great foundation, but still felt the need to be able to do good stroke work.  This is when I heard about Jo Sonja Jansen in Redlands,  started classes with her too at UWCA in 1975.

Attended a Norwegian Rose modeling class with Pat Viral from Michagan.  There was a girl there who owned the hand made shop in Montrose, Glendale.  She aske me to teach.  I said I don't know that much about painting and she said, "You know more than anyone else."  I started teaching for her in 1975 and taught for other owners etc till 1992.

Attended first national convention in Arlington, Dalles in 1973 where with three others including teacher Ruth Anna Lane had a  booth.  First convention was in 1972.  Plastic Xmas Ornament "heirlooms".  Have attended all but 3 of the 21 conventions.,  Taught classes in Denver covention.  Had a booth at convention in Seattle where we removed and sold tile house address signs.

Have been guest artist a Cabin Craft in Redlands, CA.  Taught a several Tole Society meetings.  Taught 3 times in South Dakota.  Have painted front door and booths in German restaurant in Glendale.  Done special orders for reproducing antique furniture pieces.  Painted and have had published several pieces for Tole Society magazines.   Also did specials for Better Homes and Garden magazine.

Did stenciling for the kitchen of our friend Gordon and Anna Jump.  He was Mr Carlson on WKRPL.  They have had an invitation only sale for me and my painted items for years at Xmas times.  I am very pleased to be a part of the growth and expansion of this fold art and now fine art and hope my health will be such that I can continue to teach to paint and enjoy.

Katie as a baby

Katie far right middle

Mitchell family, not sure which girl is Katie
Mitchell kids, Katie is in the middle



Katie, 1955

Lompoc CA, 1947














Katie's painting, 1993

Gina, grand daughter and Katie

Katie and grandson


Funeral photographs:




Father's death certificate: