ISLESBORO – Charlotte Agnus Gossens was born on July 1,1938, in Houston, Texas. Which then served as her lifelong reasoning of why she said “cain’t” instead of “can’t.” Her parents Gerhart and Maria
Sophia - known as Gerry and Sophie, were pleased to give their eldest son Gerry a younger
sister. Pictures of Gerry at the time suggest he was not so pleased.
Charlotte’s parents had come from Germany in the 1920s and had lived in New York City,
Chicago, and Ohio before Texas. Gerry worked for ARAMCO, the Arabian Oil Pipeline
Company and when opportunity arose he, his wife, Gerry, Charlotte and her two younger
brothers moved to Beirut, Lebanon in 1947. At that time, Beirut was a much different place; a
beautiful and cosmopolitan city. The family lived well there and stories have been handed down
of Charlotte’s mother teaching their Lebanese cook German recipes, her clothes being custom
made, and coca-cola being made from syrup--all facets of life as an expatriate. Charlotte
attended and graduated from the American Community School in Beirut where she made
life-long friends including Nancy James, who became her sister-in-law, and friends Ken and
Ginger, school mates who later married and remained close friends.
Not surprisingly, Charlotte was a precocious child who skipped a grade and was eligible to
graduate early at the age of sixteen. Also not surprising, she was a rebellious child who did
many things her mother told her not too including eating forbidden goat’s milk ice cream that
landed her in the hospital. She travelled extensively in the Middle East with her family and
treasured many of the items they bought as souvenirs in Syria, Palestine, and Damascus.
After graduation, Charlotte followed her friend and soon-to-be sister-in-law Nancy to Cedar
Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She was extremely popular, as the “date” calendars
she saved from this time attest to multiple suitors. Pictures show her with bright red lipstick and
the huge, puffy skirts of the time--always with a level and confident gaze at the camera.
Charlotte chose nursing as a career and completed her RN at John Hopkins University, a
source of great pride to her throughout her nursing career. After graduation, she worked in
various hospitals in the Washington DC area and spent time and vacations with her brother
Gerry and his wife Nancy as the rest of the family was in Beirut. Tragically, her brother Phil died
in a car accident during college.
Perhaps missing the glamour of international life, Charlotte returned for a year in Beirut with her
brother Gerry who was now working there. It was at this point, at the Marine Ball that she met
Jim Mitchell, who spotted a gorgeous redhead in a green dress across the ballroom and
decided “that is the girl I will marry.”
And after a courtship that overcame long distance, jealous secretaries, and the fact that Jim
forgot to get her last name before returning to New York, they were engaged and then married
in 1965. They began life in West New York NJ, where their daughter Holly was born and then
moved to Michigan where Aimee and James (Jimmy) were born. Charlotte worked as a per
diem nurse and also began her artistic career as a potter. Later moves took the family to Upper
St Clair, Pennsylvania, Greenlawn, NY, Falmouth ME and finally back to Islesboro where Jim
and Charlotte had purchased a summer home in 1977.
Having spent summers on Islesboro from 1977 to 1998, it felt like moving home when they
retired to the island and renovated their camp. These last two decades were some of their
happiest. Grandchildren came along, Hannah, Miles, Ava, Marta, Sophia, and Russell. And
partners for their children, known as the out-laws, William Chapman, Rose Randall and Sheree
Schoenherr. Charlotte’s birthday on July 1, became a family state holiday with parties and for a
number of years, the hilarity of Fourth of July Floats. Many will recall Charlotte dressed as
Rapunzel, Marge Simpson, Princess Leia, the Wicked Witch, and Maleficent. Everyone knew
who the real star of the float was.
Charlotte also found her true vocation on Islesboro as the docent of the Grindle Point
Lighthouse, and unofficially as the lighthouse keeper. It was a perfect job fit--telling stories,
greeting people coming to the island, meeting new people, choosing items for the shop, and
most especially being the epicenter for all the interesting gossip of the island. She loved this job
so much that continued it right up until just a few weeks before her death. That was her happy
Charlotte loved the island, loved the people she knew, the social events, running the art show at
the historical society, serving as President of the Historical Society, being on the board at the
Health Center, going to the library, the talent shows, the long-ago dog shows, hanging out on
the porch having ice cream in Dark Harbor, fancy dinner parties, parades, picnics, cocktail
parties, showing her grandchildren off to her friends and introducing her grandchildren to island
life. Jim served as her date, her constant companion, and in the end, her caregiver, allowing
her to stay at home and on the island as long as possible. He loved her deeply and truly.
Charlotte is survived by her husband of 53 years, Jim Mitchell. Her children Holly Mitchell and
husband William Chapman, Aimee Mitchell and her wife Rose Randall-Hicks, and Jim Mitchell
and partner Sheree Schoenherr. Grandchildren Hannah, Miles, Ava, Marta, Sophia and
Russell. Brothers Peter Gossens, Gerry Gossens and his wife Betsy, and several nieces and
A celebration of her life was held on September 28, 2019 at Christ Church, Dark Harbor, led by
Reverend Candice Provey. Charlotte was well and truly celebrated and remembered by family,
friends, the secret society of Ya Yas, and the community of Islesboro.