Paul Fitzsimmons, a local farmer and father of three who spend his life dedicated to his land, his family and friends, died Saturday, July 21, 2007, at his home in Macon.
Known for his love of the land, from which he made not only his living but also his life, Paul farmed and raised cattle in Macon for more than 40 years. From 78 acres to his dream of 1,000 acres, he didn’t just build a family farm. He built a legacy.
Richard Paul Fitzsimmons was born the son of Virgil and Edythe Walker Fitzsimmons on October 14, 1935, in Macon County, Missouri. A hard worker from the time he was a small child, Paul worked various odd jobs, including Moon Winks Cafe and a local gas station. With the money he earned, he bought a beloved bicycle so that he could get to work, saving for months to buy a headlight so that he could better ride at night.
Paul served his country in the Army from 1953-1956 and was a member of Ten Mile Baptist Church.
He met his wife, Sue Walter Fitzsimmons, in high school, and the two were married on October 4, 1959, at First Baptist Church in Macon. In recent years, he enjoyed building the couple’s log home north of Macon. “Family means everything,” Paul once said. “The most important thing is to have a good wife.”
Rarely seen outside his trademark overalls, Paul was a steward of the Earth, almost never missing a day working in his fields of with his livestock. “He gave 110 percent. There wasn’t a harder working man in Macon County,” says Wayne Baker of Macon, who worked with Paul for more than five years. “He was always there if anybody needed anything. And a lot of times he did things and you never even asked. And he did them for everybody. He was a very giving person, and we had a lot of fun.”
Recalling Paul’s sense of humor and mischievous manner, Baker tells the story of a memorable Christmas during which Paul gave him a stainless steel bedpan full of, he guesses, around $200 of pennies.
His oldest grandchild, Nathaniel O’Brien, and wife, Rachel, also remember the twinkle in his eye and his ornery grin. “You always knew when something was up,” Rachel said.
Nathaniel remembers a hardworking father figure who never liked to stray too far from home, never met a stranger, never made an issue of money and who “always talked about the little things in life that made a difference. And to always think about things.”
Thoughtful about every issue that presented itself, “He loved a challenge,” says daughter Teri Mayhew. “I don’t think there was anything he couldn’t figure out and solfe. And he wouldn’t give you ‘no’ or ‘yes’ for an answer. He turned around the question to make you answer it yourself.”
A natural storyteller, Paul found joy in children, especially his grandchildren. On countless occasions, a smiling little face could be seen peeking out a window of one of his many tractors.
“Paul had an infectious laugh, loved life and demonstrated many values to me as a child who spent a great deal of time in his home,” says Kathryn Stroppel, of Corvallis, Oregon. “He also suffered through more than his share of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ thanks to me. After his children were grown, he was thankful he would never have to watch it again. Then my brother and I came along. That he continued to endure it says a lot about his character.”
Paul is survived by his wife, Sue; children Tim Fitzsimmons and wife, Tera, of Macon; Teri Mayhew and husband Brent, of Macon; and Tina Bealmer and husband, Wayne, of Macon; and eight grandchildren, including Nathaniel O’Brien and wife, Rachel, of Holt, Mo.; Trenton, Trevor and Teryn Fitzsimmons of Macon; Joshua and Logan Mayhew and Abi Bealmer of Macon; and Kyle Bealmer and wife, Olivia, of Macon. He is survived by a sister-in-law, Barbara Fitzsimmons, of Excello, Mo., along with several nieces, nephews, cousins and countless friends.
Preceded in death by his parents, brother, Raymond, and several uncles and aunts, Paul was buried on Tuesday, July 24, 20017, on a potion of his land, which he gave to Kellogg Cemetery northeast of Macon. He will be missed and lovingly remembered by all who knew him.