Education: National College of Natural Medicine (1976)
In practice since: 1977
Location: Seattle, Wash.
Areas of focus/specialties:
- Botanical Medicine
- Internal Medicine
- Internationally renowned expert in botanical medicine
- Spiritual essence of plant medicines
- Kundalini yoga
Career highlights and contributions:
- Co-founded Bastyr University in 1978.
- Served as the university’s first dean of admissions, and on the board of trustees for many years.
- Played significant role in the understanding of the profound healing interactions between plants and other living organisms.
- Taught two generations of physicians, served as a strong and devout mentor to many.
- Author of: Naturopathic Applications of the Botanical Remedies; Foundations of Natural Therapeutics: Biochemical Apologetics of Naturopathic Medicine; and Plant Medicine in Practice: Using the Teachings of John Bastyr, ND.
Recent professional endeavors:
- Was a member of Bastyr University faculty until his death.
- Joined the New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians (NYANP) as an out-of-state member days before his death. Made valuable contribution to the effort to license naturopathic doctors in New York state.
- Work in progress: a case-based textbook of naturopathic therapeutics, sections of which were already in use for teaching students at Bastyr University.
Personal passions: Hiking (too fast), swimming in the ocean, and guitar playing. “He wanted to change the world because he truly loved the world, and wanted nothing more than its continued vitality, in all of its beautiful and mysterious parts.” (Jane Guiltinan, ND)
Alumni Career Spotlight
William A. Mitchell Jr., ND
Bastyr University co-founder & National College of Natural Medicine alumnus
The nation's – and indeed, the world's – natural medicine community is mourning the death of Dr. William A. Mitchell Jr., who died of a heart attack on January 23, 2007, in Seattle, Wash. Teacher, mentor, healer and philosopher, Dr. Mitchell left a profound yet very personal influence on naturopaths worldwide.
Many individual and collective tributes have already been written about Bill Mitchell. It is difficult, though not impossible, for words to express the profound impact he has made on his chosen world. Just a few thoughts and memories, as expressed by his friends and colleagues, follow:
“His writings and teachings about botanical medicine built a bridge between ancient herbal lore and modern medicine, integrating and advancing the knowledge passed down to him by some of the great naturopaths and herbalists of the mid 20th century and greatly enhanced by his own lifelong study. His steadfast belief in the vis medicatrix naturae – the healing power of nature (one of naturopathic medicine's core tenets) – took him in fascinating philosophical directions that stimulated creativity in clinical practice and individual thought among his many students.
Dr. Mitchell has remained over the last 30 years exactly who he was in 1978 at Bastyr's founding — a man of spiritual and intellectual curiosity, gentleness and humility, intelligence and vision, humor and serious purpose, whose great love for nature was expressed through his passionate commitment to his profession and to his family, patients, friends, students, and professional colleagues — although he would not have sorted people into those categories.”
Read news release: Bastyr University Mourns Loss of Co-Founder >>
“As a close friend and student of Dr. John Bastyr, he was a bridge between those who started our profession and the emerging generation. He will be deeply missed by us, and by the thousands of patients whose lives he touched with grace, with humility and the vis medicatrix naturae.” – Paul Mittman, ND, DHANP, AANMC president, SCNM president/CEO , and NYANP board member
“Bill was the embodiment of the purest intentions of naturopathic medicine. His passion to deeply understand and teach the vis medicatrix naturae was unparalleled. Bill spoke of broad, big vision. He expressed ideas my classmates and I had never thought of before, and struggled to even understand. He laid out these ideas, one after another, and with loving guidance, helped us to see the beautiful interconnectedness of all things. Bill was one of a kind. He was not afraid to be different.”
– Jane Guiltinan, ND, American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) president, and Bastyr Center for Natural Health clinical professor
Read In Memoriam >>
“Pizzorno, who delivered Mitchell's son, Noah, described Mitchell as a warm and friendly person everybody liked. An avid and fast hiker, he would harvest herbs in the mountains and meadows and talk about the history and purpose of the herbs. ‘He was very committed to understanding the science, but he was close to the spiritual side of medicine and always inspired the students to work harder,’ he said.” Read Seattle PI article William A. Mitchell, 1947-2007: Physician co-founded Bastyr >>
– Joseph E. Pizzorno Jr., ND, Bastyr University co-founder and president emeritus
“He saw the full potential in everyone he met and he made us all strive to live up to that potential and become better human beings.” – Jasmine Patel, MSAOM, LAc, Bastyr University alumna
Read Seattle PI Sound Off forum >>
“Like many of my school mates, I was in awe of his brilliance, his robust connection to the natural world, and his weirdness …” – Christy Lee-Engel, ND, LAc, Bastyr University alumna
Read more Dreaming Bill >>
“Bill left big shoes to fill. To see his encouraging face, the simple love radiating from his eyes that has held each of us who crossed his path in a sustaining broth of nutrients, in such a subtle manner that we barely recognized its source. Its source was Bill. Bill tapped into the sap of some divine maple tree. He was the fuel in our dreams: to be naturopaths, to start a college. Bill walked the daily walk, continuing to share the lessons passed on by Dr. Bastyr and those Dr. B called ‘the old timers’: Bill became an old timer.” – Melanie Grimes, RSHom (NA), CCH, Bastyr University faculty
“… That was definitely Bill, as usual leading the way into new territory, always personal, always important. He loved and helped us; he changed our lives. I am full and spilling over at this moment with thankfulness, admiration, appreciation. You are a being of love even more purely, clearly now Bill. We carry that in our hearts.” – John Hibbs, ND, Clinical Professor, Bastyr University
Healer for the Ages
How do we begin to reconcile the loss of such a great man
Someone who always stood at the cutting edge of his medicine,
Passionate in his life and teachings about the healing power of nature
Touching countless lives with his enthusiasm, gentleness, and caring ways.
He succeeded in inspiring a whole new generation of students and doctors
Serving as both teacher and mentor he engaged our minds and opened our hearts,
Challenging us to integrate the science of medicine and wisdom of traditional healing
His legacy as a healer for the ages forever etched across the earth and sky.
He was always exploring and searching for answers to questions
Regarding the deeper and true meaning of the mysteries of life,
A fire lit within his soul that drove his quest for the fruits of knowledge
Which he then readily shared with anyone who was open to listen.
Being a student of life, the earth served as his sacred classroom
Where he believed in the interconnectedness of every living thing,
And he treated life with reverence just as he treated each of his patients
With the endearing qualities of compassion, humility, and charity.
Stories about his life and accomplishments could fill untold volumes
Yet at the essence of the man lies the simplicity of his message to us,
Embrace life and the incredible opportunity to learn from Mother Nature
And believe in yourself, being ever thankful for life’s wonderful gift of love.
– January 27, 2007, poem by Eric Steven Jones, ND, Bastyr University
Written in memory of our dear friend, teacher, and mentor, Bill Mitchell.