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"To say he was a great man with foresight and generosity isn’t enough," Adm. Robert Smith III, the school’s president, said. "His contributions to this university literally made this institution possible."
His Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, founded in 1979, has made more than $400 million in gifts.
Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst both called Mitchell a true Texas legend.
"George Mitchell was a pioneer in the energy industry and was admired by many around the world for his entrepreneurial spirit," Dewhurst said Friday.
In the early 1970s, Mitchell began developing The Woodlands, a suburban Houston master-planned community designed as a place for mixed-income residential development with jobs and amenities nearby while preserving the East Texas forest and other natural resources that covered the 27,000 acres. He later would call it his most satisfying achievement.
The Woodlands is now home to about 100,000 people and one of the nation’s busiest outdoor performing arts and entertainment venues there carries his wife’s name, the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.
"His ambition and success have transformed our region," Houston Mayor Annise Parker said. "He was a visionary, and showed his love for Houston through his work and hometown pride."
"He had the right mix of vision, optimism and tenacity, and a love for his fellow man," the Mitchell family statement said. "There’s no doubt that he helped make this world a better place."
Funeral arrangements were not immediately released.
Associated Press Writer Kevin Begos in Pittsburgh contributed to this story.
Online: Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation http://cgmf.org/p/family-statement.html
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