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Mitchel, Sam



  • Existence: 1917 - 1993


Duane Herbert (Sam) Mitchel (October 10, 1917 - June 25, 1993) was born and grew up on a large homestead farm in Winchester, Kansas. After portraying Uncle Sam in a grade school play, he was often called "Sammy" and the name became a regular moniker. After graduating high school in 1935, he left to Geneva College in Pennsylvania where he graduated summa cum laude in 1939. He was then accepted to Harvard Medical and graduated cum laude in 1943, finishing with an internship at Massachusetts General Hospital. Soon after, he enlisted in the Army and served as an Army surgeon for three years. After returning from time served in the military, Sam relocated to Denver, Colorado where he opened a medical practice, and served at a number of well known Colorado establishments as a doctor, including the Brown Palace and the Central City Opera. He married Lois Goodson in 1952 and had two sons. He raised his sons on a ranch near Edwards, Colorado, where they discovered some mycological specimens that Sam could not identify, and finding no experts on the matter in Colorado, he pursued the knowledge himself. Once Sam Mitchel began researching fungi, he sought other local mushroom enthusiasts including E.H. Brumquit at Denver Museum of Natural History (now Denver Museum of Nature and Science) where he was able to store and research the specimens. Many other enthusiasts also began to contribute more and more specimens for research purposes. Later, Sam and Mary Wells founded the Colorado Mycological Society and wrote 'Colorado Mushrooms, a museum publication. When their mushroom collections outgrew the museum, in 1967 they were invited by James J. Waring and Ruth Porter Waring, board members of Denver Botanic Gardens to move their collections to the Gardens, initially in the Waring House and later in the Boettcher Education Building. The public's growing interest in mushrooms led to Sam Mitchel receiving increasingly more calls about poisonings, leading him to develop the original International Mushroom Toxicology System in 1973 in which mushroom toxins were categorized and the diagnosis and treatment were detailed. Sam's work brought knowledge of mushrooms to Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region. On October 15, 2009, the herbarium of Fungi at Denver Botanic Gardens was dedicated in his honor.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Sam Mitchel Papers

Identifier: HFLA 007

The D.H. (Sam) Mitchel Papers contain materials created and used by Sam Mitchel.

Dates: n.d.