John Parson Mix ll passed away December 3, 2021, in his beloved Moscow, Idaho. While his failing heart brought about his death, it was that same giving heart that blessed so many people during his 87 years.
John was born October 15, 1934, in Boise, Idaho, the only child of John and Jean (Holden) Mix.
John’s gift of humor and showmanship began early when he entertained neighborhood kids with jokes and magic tricks. Piano lessons at a young age revealed his gift for music and the piano became a lifelong companion. John could play everything from old hymns to show tunes, with or without sheet music.
John’s Moscow roots began in 1883 when his great- grandparents Franklin and Mary (Grimes) Mix settled north of town with their eleven children. John always felt a connection with East City Park because in 1891, Franklin, a nurseryman, selected and installed the shade trees that Moscow residents enjoy today. Throughout his childhood John looked forward to visiting his grandparents Gainford and Maude (Gale) Mix at their farm. When he graduated from Boise’s only high school in 1952, there was no question he would follow in his family’s footsteps and become a Vandal. By the time John entered the U of I, two generations of Mixes had already graduated from the institution. As a freshman he joined the ROTC and pledged Phi Delta Theta.
It was at the UI where John met his future wife, Shirley Blick of Castleford, Idaho. After graduating in 1956 with a BA in broadcasting, he served in the Army in Germany, where their daughter Stephanie was born. Upon discharge, he returned to Idaho and, after a brief stint in Orofino, moved to his adopted hometown on the Palouse, where he bought Moscow’s radio station KRPL from family members. A son, Jeffrey, arrived in 1960, and daughter Tracy came along in 1963.
Moscow never had a bigger booster than John Mix. He threw himself into many organizations and activities around town, like the Lions Club, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Army National Guard. He served a term as the UI Alumni Association’s president and was a member of the Moscow United Methodist Church, singing in its choir. But it was John’s made-for-radio voice that Moscow residents knew best as he called Vandal football games throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, adding his sense of humor to the action on the field. Older Moscow residents undoubtedly remember those adorable children’s interviews from Santa’s lap in the loft at Tri- State, moderated by John and broadcast at Christmastime on KRPL.
John was a people person, and before long, his interest in politics was sparked. In 1968, he was elected to the state senate. During his two terms, he attended a weekly, bipartisan prayer meeting with his fellow legislators and became lifelong friends with future governor Cecil Andrus, who had been his neighbor in Orofino. The late ‘60s and early ‘70s were the heyday of the Democratic Party in Idaho, and Andrus, U.S. Senator Frank Church and other state leaders spent time at John’s home talking politics. He was a gifted emcee and was in demand for events throughout the region. One large meeting he moderated was going on too long, so John instituted what became known as “The Mix Clap.” Instead of prolonged applause after each speaker, he insisted one clap would suffice. The crowd loved it, and thereafter he used it whenever necessary. He found time to get away with family to a special spot near Santa, Idaho, spending weekends around the campfire with him cooking breakfast. The Sawtooth Mountains were another place dear to his heart.
In 1976, John was ready for something new. The family moved to Western Washington, where the bustling Seattle economy provided him numerous opportunities. He worked in construction management and healthcare, as well as other business interests. But 1982 marked the most significant change in John’s life when, after years of simply being busy in church settings, he came to understand that all he had read and heard about Jesus Christ was true, and he began to trust him as Lord and Savior. Along with his new Christian faith, John found the ideal outlet for his gifts, the Rotary Club of Bellevue, where he is remembered for his service and promotion of anything Vandal. John finished his professional career as a public relations director for the CPA Society of Washington.
In 2006, John retired and moved back to Moscow and dove into community life. He rejoined the Methodist Church, began singing with the Palouse Harmony Chorus, became a member of the Latah County Historical Society, and attended many UI football games. A highlight of game day for him was watching the marching band. He met weekly for coffee with the “Geezers”, a group of retired UI alums, keeping them all in stitches with funny stories he had collected. John’s dedication to Moscow’s Rotary Club led him to convince the group that selling kettle corn would be a profitable and fun way to raise money for their projects. Well into his 80s, John could be seen at the Farmers Market preparing and selling kettle corn.
His family and friends will remember his quick wit, sense of humor, his love of history and his desire to serve his community. His memory lives on in the family he loved: His daughter Stephanie Einig (Larry), son Jeffrey (Keely), daughter Tracy Goff (Darin); grandchildren Kelsey, Anthony, Scott, Amanda, and Jonah; and great-grandchildren Ethan, Marley, and Avery. John remained friends with his ex-wife, Shirley Blick, until his death. Our family would like to extend a loving thanks to Palouse Hills Assisted Living, who cared for him well in the final years of his life. The staff there is terrific!
In lieu of flowers, if you care to honor John with a gift in his name, please consider the Latah County Historical Society, your local Rotary Club, or the John P. Mix Academic Excellence Endowment #DE986 at the University of Idaho.
A Celebration of Life service will be announced in 2022.
To send flowers to John's family, please visit our floral store.