VAN RASSEL, MICHAEL BERNARD “MITCH” (May 12, 1957 - May 18, 2022)
It is with heavy hearts that the family of Mitch Van Rassel announces his death in hospital at age 65.
Summing up those 65 years here would be impossible — what follows is our best attempt to capture the essence of a life lived with love, generosity and integrity.
Michael was born in Val d’Or, Quebec, but grew up in the west end of Toronto. It was here where Michael became Mitch — a nickname born out of necessity to distinguish him from four or five other Michaels in the same class. Safe to say, it stuck.
Mitch was a gifted hockey and baseball player growing up, with natural athletic ability surpassed only by his outgoing personality. Friendships Mitch formed in his childhood and youth would go on to last a lifetime.
Mitch was diagnosed with diabetes during his first year at the University of Western Ontario. While diabetes would begin to seriously affect Mitch’s health later in life, he didn’t let the diagnosis get him down or slow him down. He viewed Philadelphia Flyers great Bobby Clarke as an example of someone who didn’t let diabetes stand in the way.
Mitch graduated from Western with an English degree, specializing in the works of William Shakespeare. It doesn’t sound like a practical education by today’s standards, but combined with Mitch’s eloquence and good nature, it provided the foundation for a successful career in sales. Mitch worked mainly in the dental industry, but he also enjoyed a stint as sales manager at a Toronto-area country club, a job that allowed him to combine work with his love of golf.
As life’s ups and downs and his health threw him new challenges, Mitch rarely lost his sense of optimism. It was a quality he was born with, but was bolstered in recent years by his Christian faith. Mitch’s spiritual journey took him from being an eager student of the Bible to someone who became a teacher and mentor to others as discipleship pastor of Renew Church in Mississauga. Finding this calling so late in life isn’t a typical path, but it was actually a logical extension of Mitch’s loving character.
Those same qualities made Mitch a natural at one of life’s most important vocations: parenthood. He was immensely proud of the strong, compassionate woman his daughter, Michelle, has become. Mitch was elated at becoming a grandfather to Parker and Barrett; he cherished his time with them, which was far too brief.
The discovery of insulin gave Mitch and millions of others the gift of a full life, but diabetes remains a serious disease that breaks down the body after so many decades. Mitch recently started kidney dialysis, but medical intervention and Mitch’s irrepressible spirit could no longer overcome the heavy toll that diabetes took on him.
We are left to mourn because Mitch is gone, but he is at peace after a life well-lived. We are grateful beyond measure for the time we had wth him.
“The web of our life is a mingled yarn, good and ill together.”
— William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well
Mitch is survived by his daughter, Michelle Jackett, her husband Caleb, and their children Parker and Barrett, as well as his parents Bob and Pierrette, siblings Kathleen Morris (Hugh), James (Pat), Mark (Shannon), Jason (Lea Storry), many nieces and nephews, and innumerable friends far and wide.
There will be a visitation on Sunday, May 22 from 1 p.m. - 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. at Glen Oaks Funeral Home and Cemetery, 3164 Ninth Line, Oakville. All are welcome; the family asks those in attendance to wear masks. The family will hold a private chapel service on Monday, May 23, followed by cremation.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Diabetes Canada or the Kidney Foundation of Canada
Please take a moment to send a condolence to the family or share a memory of Mitch.
For those unable to attend, you may watch through the livestream link below