William Drew Mitzelfeld
October 6, 1988 – March 20, 2019
A classically-trained pianist and brilliant electrical engineer who taught himself Mandarin before moving to China at age 21, William Drew Mitzelfeld will be remembered for his unique talents and his warmth and love for his family and friends. Drew passed away in Shanghai, China at age 30, on March 20, after battling Typhus. He left a legacy of memories that his loved ones and family will not soon forget. He was the first child of Pam, who would later become an English professor at Oakland University, and Brad, a partner at Bradmont Properties and Mitzelfeld’s Inc., which for many years owned the Mitzelfeld’s department store, a fixture on Main Street in Rochester. Just 18 months later, Drew was joined by his sister Victoria Tristen (Tori). A fashion entrepreneur who works in the United States and Europe, she visited Drew frequently, and became part of the close friendships he developed in Shanghai. From a young age, Drew was drawn to classical music. Practicing for hours each day, while a student at Brother Rice High School in Birmingham, Drew won a piano concerto competition at age 17. His reward was the honor of being guest pianist in two performances with the Rochester Symphony Orchestra. By the time he was applying to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, he was already an accomplished pianist and first applied to be a piano performance major. Despite his love of music, not long after entering college, Drew determined that his academic passion was in the sciences and changed his major to electrical engineering. Not content to simply attend classes, Drew’s desire to make a difference and assist with academic research while still a freshman, led him to convince the faculty to open up research opportunities to undergraduates. The result was the creation of the McCormick Undergraduate Research Society. (See https://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/news/articles/archive/2009-2012/article_598.html). After testing in to advanced Mandarin classes, Drew represented his college in a Midwest language competition and won a chance to spend a month studying at the Shanghai Normal University. That set the stage for his desire to live and work in China. After graduating with near perfect grades from Northwestern with degrees in electrical and biomedical engineering, Drew set off for Shanghai, where he took a position with Chinaco Co., a company that builds, acquires, and updates hospitals in the Shanghai area. Drew ultimately was the lead in their finance division. Regardless of his professional life, Drew always had a piano in his apartment and his love of classical music never waned. Drew would reside in Shanghai for the rest of his life. Visitation for Drew will be from 2 to 5 p.m. with a memorial service to follow at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17, at the Pixley Funeral Home, 322 W. University Drive in Rochester. Drew is survived by his mother Pamela Mitzelfeld, of Huntersville, NC; his father Bradley, of Rochester; his sister Victoria, of Brooklyn, NY; his grandparents William and Diana Mitzelfeld, of Rochester; his grandfather Billy Pierce, of Livonia; His uncle Monty, of Rochester; his aunt and uncle Jim and Michele Quinn of Northville; and his cousin Allison Medlin, of Cary, NC. Donations in Drew’s memory can be made out to the Community Foundation of Rochester.
- Pamela Mitzelfeld, Mother
- Bradley Mitzelfeld, Father
- Victoria (Tori) Tristen, Sister
- William and Diana Mitzelfeld, Grandparents
- Billy Pierce, Grandfather
- Monty, of Rochester, Uncle
- Jim Quinn, Uncle
- Michele Quinn, Aunt
- Allison Medlin, Cousin
- Memorial Gathering Wednesday, April 17, 2019
- Memorial Service Wednesday, April 17, 2019
William Drew Mitzelfeld
April 17, 2019
Drew is our nephew we have so many beautiful memories of Drew that we will cherish always. His passing leaves a whole in our hearts and the world got sadder without him in it. He will be greatly missed by myself Susan Cooper, his Uncle James Cooper also, his cousins James Cooper Jr., Kimberly (Mosey) Cooper and Clinton Cooper. Our deepest sympathies to Drew’s parents Pamela & Brad also, his sister Tori may God Bless and comfort you in this time of great sorrow.
April 16, 2019
Brad, Pam, and Tori,
My deepest sympathy for your loss. I cannot even imagine what you are going through but please know you are in my thoughts and I send love and comfort to you.
My first memory of Drew was at a restaurant. I was home from Hawaii on vacation and we had met up with the family and Pam brought Drew. I sat next to him in his highchair and we played and laughed. Then he kept reaching for a lemon so I asked and we gave him a wedge. He immediately put it in his mouth and bit down and made the cutest scrunched up face and set it down. He drank some water and grabbed that lemon wedge and bit it again. We laughed and he was just so happy and playful. Drew was just over 1 year old at that time. Pam was pregnant with Victoria and I used to feel her kicking and moving around during that trip.
Love you all
Christina Austin Thompson
April 15, 2019
Dear Pam, Brad & Tori,
I am so completely shocked and heartbroken to hear the tragic news of Drew’s passing. I wish I could have had a chance to spend time with Drew as an adult, as I can see he grew into an amazingly smart, kind, and talented person. I am very thankful for the time I was blessed to spend babysitting Drew & Tori as little kids. We spent many happy afternoons together - reading Dr. Seuss, taking walks or going on the swing set, watching nature shows, or playing with one of your many pets (some spaniels, a rabbit, an adult cat, and a Yorkie who loved to snuggle). It is the combination of these deep personal connections and the insatiable desire I saw within Drew & Tori to learn and grow that helped lead me to my passion of teaching. I thank you all for your trust and faith during a fundamental part of my life - it truly impacted and changed me. Please know the whole Austin family is sending their deepest condolences, prayers, and love to you all.
Forever in my Heart,
Christina Austin Thompson
April 11, 2019
Sincerest condolence and sympathy to Mitzelfeld family. Wishing peace and strength to the family to deal with this untimely loss of a precious life.
April 9, 2019
Drew was a teacher’s delight - a bright, gifted, sweetheart of a student with so much to offer the world. He brought focus, appreciation, and understanding beyond his years to the classroom. I was honored his family choose me to deliver his Kingsbury graduation salute and my heart goes out to them at this time of loss. Pam, Tori, Brad - please know it is deeply shared.
April 3, 2019
Drew brought such joy to his family! The stories of his world travels and many talents were always a delightful topic at family gathering. Sending our sympathy and love, Tommy, Tori, Kate & Jane Eggleston
April 1, 2019
How well I remember watching Drew grow and flourish and Pam and I sharing news about our children and their many accomplishments. The talented, gifted, and special person Drew is will remain with me forever. Having children close to Drew's age, I can imagine how much of a loss he will be to Pam, Brad, and Tori. Know that there are many of us sharing in your grief and upholding you quietly in our thoughts, prayers, and wishes.
March 31, 2019
Drew has such an adorable face, it is unbelievable that he is one of the smart people I know. My deepest condolences to Drew's family and all those that love him. I hope you can take some comfort in knowing that he was a great friend, and he will be sorely missed.