In Passing: Lolita “Tita” Mitchell Lanning – November 21, 1933 to November 18, 2018

By Montecito Journal   |   December 6, 2018

Lolita Mitchell Lanning, or “Tita” to all who knew her, passed peacefully on Sunday, November 18 at Serenity House in Santa Barbara, with loved ones in attendance. Tita was the daughter of Lolita Armour of the Armour meat packing company in Chicago, IL and Jack Mitchell, who was president and co-founder of Santa Barbara’s Los Rancheros Visitadores as well as a founder of United Airlines.

Tita was born in New York City, and was adopted by Jack and Lolita Mitchell. She spent her early years between Chicago and Santa Barbara, growing along with the then small village of Montecito. Tita and her family lived at El Mirador estate in Santa Barbara. Purchased by her grandmother Lolita Sheldon Armour in 1914, the property was well known for beautiful Japanese and Italian gardens, and is one of the renowned garden properties in Montecito along with Lotusland, owned by Ganna Walska.

Throughout her topsy turvy life, Tita was friends with some of the most famous people of the day, including Walt Disney, who gave her a pony named Minnie, Barnaby Conrad, Julia Child, Leo Carrillo, Charles Lindberg, Shirley Temple, the Wrigley family of chewing gum fame, and many others. Tita was a good friend of Ganna Walska’s niece, Hania, and she wrote about Walska, the Meekers, and other early Santa Barbara families, and many other adventures in her memoir, The Wit to Win.

In addition to being a published author, Tita was a life-long advocate for animals – especially dog rescue, providing a home to rescue dogs for over 62 years. Tita was also known for her philanthropy, her generosity, and gregarious nature. She volunteered her estate, El Mirador, for events as diverse as the Santa Barbara Writers conference to the Hillside House Sunset Soirees to lunches and picnics.

Her death is truly the end of an era.

Tita had the joy of reuniting with her biological family, the Dodsons, in the late 1980s. She is survived by her brothers, her four children, and four grandchildren.


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