It’s with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Laura Mitchell Ghilarducci. She passed away surrounded by her close family and friends by her side. Laura was a loving wife, mother, grandmother (Yia Yia), aunt, sister, and friend to many.
Laura was born in Bakersfield, CA into a proud pioneering Greek-American household (Antonaros and Mitchell families). She was the third of four children. Her parents, Dr. Peter Charles Mitchell and Callie Antonaros Mitchell, were monumental role models in her upbringing. They instilled in their family the importance of hard work, perseverance, and education.
Laura attended Longfellow Elementary, Washington Jr. High, and graduated from Bakersfield High School in 1969. During high school, Laura fell in love with her high school sweetheart and future husband, Walt Ghilarducci. After attending Bakersfield College with Walt, she went on to receive her Bachelor’s degree and teaching credential at Long Beach State with an emphasis in Visual and Performing Arts. From there, she obtained her Master’s degree from the University of La Verne. Laura was also a part of the first ever California State University’s Bakersfield women’s Roadrunner tennis team. Laura’s love for education also led her to pursue a Doctoral degree from ULV as well.
Laura began her teaching career at Arvin High School. During her time there, she was also a women’s volleyball and basketball coach. She then continued her teaching journey at Foothill High School, where she became the head women’s tennis coach (20+ years) and Visual and Performing Arts Department Chair. Known to many of her students and colleagues as “Mrs. G.”, Laura had a divine impact on so many individuals. Laura was in the midst of completing her 46th year of teaching with over 35 plus years as a FHS Trojan. Over those many years, Laura not only taught, but invested in thousands of children’s lives in life changing ways.
Laura was an influential leader as she helped operate and/or organize the FHS Art Club (director), Foothill High School Hall of Fame (member), Kern High School Teachers Association (secretary), Kern High School District (numerous panels and art committees), Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (mentor teacher), Western Association of Schools and Colleges (committee), Workforce Academy (teacher) and various other leadership organizations.
In her free time, Laura enjoyed spending time with the ones she loved. She was passionate about her Greek heritage and celebrated many events with family and friends. Laura also enjoyed her family time in Huntington Beach. She enjoyed creating art throughout the years; her work will be cherished by all. Laura was a phenomenal competitor, whether it was in tennis, golf, basketball, or even a game of marbles (city champion). She was a trailblazer who believed in equality for all and was always a leader in all that she did.
Like her parents, Laura was a devoted Christian and philanthropist. Aside from being a lifelong member of the Saint George Greek Orthodox Church, Laura was also a member of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church located in Long Beach, CA. She also had long ties to the Woman’s Club of Bakersfield, Daughters’ of Penelope, Philoptochos Society, Cunningham Art Gallery/Bakersfield Art Museum, Bakersfield Racquet Club, Bakersfield Country Club, among others.
She is preceded in death by her father, Dr. Peter C. Mitchell, mother, Callie Antonaros Mitchell, and sister-in-law, Anastasia Theodore Mitchell. She is survived by her husband, Walt, daughter, Gina, son, John, son-in-law, Andrew, granddaughter, Olivia Laura, sister, Athene, brothers, Charles and Pete, nephews, Peter (Kristyne) and Alex, niece, Callie, and many cousins. Special thank you to Bianca, Christina, Liz, Elaine, Tony, and the countless others who have been such great friends over the years.
We find peace in knowing that heaven needed their angel sooner than expected. Her kindness, wit, guidance, humor, and love will always be remembered. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Laura Mitchell Ghilarducci Fine Arts Memorial Scholarship at Foothill High School. Please send to Foothill High School 501 Park Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93306 c/o Walt Ghilarducci.
Trisagion (Prayer) Service: Thursday, March 19th 7:30 PM
Funeral Service: Friday, March 20th 11 AM
Saint George Greek Orthodox Church
Due to the current health risk circumstances, the Celebration of Life for Laura that was scheduled following the funeral services has been postponed. When a new date and time has been determined, it will be announced.
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