Died when: 74 years 249 days
Star Sign: Taurus
Hinton Mitchem (May 18, 1938 – January 22, 2013) was a Democratic member of the Alabama Senate, representing the 9th District from 1979 to January 1987 and then again from June 1987 to January 2011. He first entered politics as a member of the Albertville, Alabama City Council in 1968. In 1974, he was elected unopposed in the general election as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives, representing the 25th District, serving a single four-year term from 1975 through 1979 before his election to the Senate. He ran without Republican opposition again in both his first race and in 1982 as well as the special 1983 race the entire legislature had to run in. In 1986, Mitchem stepped down from the Senate and ran in the primary for Lieutenant Governor. In a four-person field, he placed third behind fellow State Senator John Teague and eventual winner, Jim Folsom, Jr., placing just ahead of former State Treasurer Melba Till Allen. When Senate successor was forced from office upon a criminal conviction in April 1987, Mitchem jumped into the special election and won handily in the primary, and by a 2-to-1 margin over Republican . He won unopposed again in 1990. With the growing strength of the Alabama Republicans, he faced opposition during his last terms in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006, with a declining, but respectable, percentage of the vote. His closest race was his final one in 2006 where he prevailed by 7% over attorney of Guntersville, Alabama. Mitchem was elected President Pro Tempore of the Senate on January 9, 2007 by a margin of 18–17 over the efforts of a coalition of Republicans and disaffected Democrats to elect leadership that would be more favorable to then-Gov. Bob Riley. He then resigned from the position on February 5, 2009 per a prior agreement to allow a vote on Rodger Smitherman to succeed him for the remaining two years of the session. As of 2010, Mitchem was serving in his 36th year in the Alabama Legislature, then the longest-serving member (with a 5-month gap of service in early 1987). He chose to retire in 2010 and was succeeded by Republican Clay Scofield. Mitchem received his Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Education from the University of Georgia in 1961. He also served in the U.S. Coast Guard. He moved from Georgia to Marshall County, Alabama in 1962. He was the owner of Hinton Mitchem Tractor Co., Inc. from 1965 until he sold it in 2005. In 1980, he was appointed by then-Governor Fob James, Jr. as Chairman of the Alabama Governor's Commission on Physical Fitness, serving in that capacity for 28 years. He also served 18 consecutive years as Chairman of the Alabama Special Olympics. Mitchem was a Rotarian and enjoyed golf and traveling in his spare time. He had three children, Todd, Tanya, Dee and stepdaughter Brittnie Mabry, and five grandchildren. He died on January 22, 2013. He had Alzheimer's disease.