Published On: Fri, May 11th, 2018

Matthew `Bump’ Mitchell: Dedicated Entire life to Helping People, Especially Youth

Police Sgt. Rev. Matthew “Bump” Mitchell instilled character, discipline and a strong work ethic in the minds of thousands of Delray Beach children through his faith and his counseling while serving as a football coach.

The former football coach, police officer, minister, advisor, role model, mentor, dedicated public servant, and a friend to many, died Saturday after a lengthy illness. He was 81.

Back in the 1980s until he retired in mid 2000s, there was no one more dedicated to this community and to law enforcement, in general, than Sgt. Mitchell.

Although he was quick to proclaim his roots in Quitman, Ga., Sgt. Mitchell, who was known around Delray Beach as “Bump,” would say he lived all but three of his years in Delray Beach. That’s because his parents moved south to work as sharecroppers on the Rangeline, west of the city, when he was 3.

He earned his nickname “Bump” while playing quarterback for Carver High School. A versatile athlete, who played on the school’s 1954 championship team, he also lettered in baseball, track and football.

Upon leaving high school, he went to work as a custodian for the Palm Beach County School Board. During his 10 years there, he also moonlighted as an auxiliary police officer. With the help of a number of people on the force, he landed the job as a full-time police officer.

The staunch disciplinarian had an unorthodox remedy for rambunctious and recalcitrant boys he encountered.

Instead of arresting many of the children and carting them off to jail, he would often take them to his office and give them a tongue lashing. Oftentimes, that was more punitive than facing the wrath of the judge.

He was also a coach – for of more than 40 years – with the Delray Rocks football league, which became his tool to turn many boys around and teach them how to get along in life.

His impact is evident by the many success stories of boys, who under his mentorship, went to college and later have thriving careers.

Along with his three natural children, he is the spiritual dad and athletic father to countless men and women in the city.

For many years and long before mentoring became a household name, Bump was the face of local male role models.

After retiring from police work, he continued touching and saving lives on the pulpit at Christ Missionary Baptist Church.

Several members shared stories of how he impacted their life, including the one whose daughter was heading down the wrong track and Sgt. Mitchell helped to get her life back in order.

As a local reporter, I had a cordial relationship with him while he was active on the force. However, after his retirement we became closer. On several occasions he shared words of encouragement with me as I mentored young boys, then, around town.

I recalled the day when I felt like my efforts were in vain and was ready to walk away, Sgt. Mitchell put his hand on my shoulder and as he did on the field said, “The young branches always need molding, someone to care for them.” He also said, “News reporting pays your bills son, but molding these boys is your ministry. Don’t forsake them.”

Wow!

It is an understatement to say that Sgt. Mitchell’s passing caused a deep void of sadness in the community.

And although his loss will be felt by many, he leaves behind a significant legacy.

Delray Beach needs a few more Bump Mitchells – people who are just sincere givers.

My heart and prayers go out to the Mitchell family and all who will experience this void that cannot ever be filled.

His service, commitment and dedication to this community will be greatly missed.

  1. Ron Allen can be reached at crallen@Delraybeachtribune.com or 561-665-0151.

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