Johnny Mitchell Bethea Sr, went home to the Lord on Saturday July 18, he leaves to mourn eight sons, Johnny Mitchell Bethea Jr. (Valarie), Paul Lawrence Bethea (Irish), James Dallas Bethea, Stanley Bethea (Mariam), Imam. Abdul Shaheed Bethea (Khadijah), Minister Garrett Frederick Bethea (Jackie), Reginald Lamont Bethea (Belaney), Michael Anthony Bethea (Disheila), and four daughters, Pennie Bethea-Pavic (Goran), Dr. Karoline Bethea-Jones, PhD (Alban), Sharon Denise Bethea and Audrey Bonita Heath (George). He also leaves a host of grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. One sister Mae Ida Jenkins of Bennettsville SC, six brothers all preceded him in death: Cadee Bethea Willie B. Bethea, Greg Bethea Jr., Henry Bethea, Nathanial Bethea and Samuel Bethea.
Mitchell grew up in Bennettsville SC, along with seven bothers and one beloved sister Mae Ida. In the Bethea household church was a requirement , he was a member of the Jr. Choir at Mt. Zion Baptist Church before joining the Armed Forces January 24, 1951, he spent 16 weeks in basic training at the military base in Fort Jackson South Carolina, after his basic training he spent 6 months fighting in the Korean war with the 24th Infantry Division, 2nd Battalion where he received a Combat Infantry Badge, Army Occupation Medal (Japan), United Nations Service Medal and a Korean Service Medal with 3 Bronze Service Stars. He was released from active duty with an honorable discharge in October of 1952 in Fort Benning Georgia.
After leaving the service he married his wife Nora Lee Cook on December 31st 1953 in front of the judge at the Marlboro County Courthouse and they ultimately moved to New Jersey where he worked thirty years for The Bergen Record in Hackensack NJ, as the first African American Pressman.
John and Nora were married for 66 years before her untimely death, July 1, 2020, eighteen days before him.