District: Capital Area
Administrative: Communications, Communications - Member
Bess G. Mitchell was born at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Sheridan, Wyoming. After completing high school years In Sheridan, she attended the University of Denver, CO, before transferring to the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism at Columbia obtaining a Bachelor of Journalism degree in 1959. She was awarded a Schermerhorn Fellowship in Criminal Jurisprudence at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, which she completed in 1960.
Although a love of the newspaper business remained with her from adolescence, her journey in journalism first began as the Director of Public Relations for the New York Philharmonic Symphony with the late Leonard Bernstein, Conductor, and was followed as Director of Media Relations for The Cleveland Orchestra, the late George Szell, Conductor.
Coming to Texas in the late 1960’s in the era of LBJ, she worked as a speechwriter for former Speaker of the House, Ben Barnes, and assisted numerous Texas lawmakers in the Legislature on campaign staffs, and in Capitol offices in media and press relations, Including the late Dean of the Senate, Chet Brooks, Pasadena, the late Sen. Carlos Truan, Corpus Christi, and the late Governors John Connally, Mark White, Preston Smith, and Ann Richards. Her mentor, the late former House member, Lloyd Criss of Galveston, was never absent throughout his lifetime of public service.
During the 1960 White House Conference on Children and Youth, she was the late Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall’s Administrative Aide for media during Conference workshops.
When The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas opened its doors in the late 1960’s, she was named Director of Public Information. Her introductory press release, “After 25 Years: A Greater Goal,” was published in DALLAS, the Chamber of Commerce quarterly magazine, for which she won an Addy Award for investigative research.
In addition to her work as a journalist, she has been in development and public relations in several medical centers including the Yale-New Haven Medical School where she served as the Administrator for Patient Surgical Services in the University’s Department of Pediatric Surgery.
She was a General Partner in Mitchell-Schuller Advertising/Public Relations in Austin as well as a copywriter for Media Communications where the first
“Don’t Mess With Texas” campaign slogan originated. It remains in state-wide use today.
As a former real estate broker and member of the Austin Board of Realtors, she had been affiliated with Paul S. Meisler Properties, Texas Southwest Properties, and Marsh and Box.
A lifetime member of the University of Missouri Alumni Ass’n, in 2009, she was inducted into the Gold Medal Society’s “50 Over 50” Wall of Honor for exemplary public service for more than half a century in the field of journalism—“so they shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
She is a former Vice President of the Kiwanis Club, a former member of the Dallas Press Club, a member of Theta Sigma Phi, national journalism honorary, and the University Club in Columbia, MO.
Her daughter is a preventive medicine and public health physician whose husband is a radiologist. She also has an 18-year-old grandson.