Paul Fitzsimmons | 1935-2007

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.

Jerry Payne

Gerald “Jerry” Payne, family man and U.S. veteran, dies at 69

Jerry Payne, whose greatest joy was his larger-than-life family, died of cancer on August 6, 2017. He was 69.

Jerry was raised in a two-bedroom house in the tiny town of Lingo, so small it can’t boast of even one stoplight. The middle child among 11 other brothers and sisters, Jerry was the son of Georgia Fern Edie Payne and Jessey Payne, an engineer on the Sante Fe railroad.

Like his three older brothers, Jerry joined the military in 1966 and served three years in the U.S. Army, mostly during the Vietnam war.

His wife of nearly 50 years, Carol Joiner Payne of Turney, says he loved puttering around his 50-acre property on his two John Deere tractors and doting on his German Shepherd Allie, whom he called his Little Lady.

Jerry had a dry sense of humor and gentle directness he often used for a laugh or to help others see things in a new way.“He always tried to lighten the mood and joke with people, even though his jokes were not always PC,” says his daughter Tammy of Kansas City. He always tried to make people feel at ease.”

He cared deeply for all members of his family and was always willing to help. “If he had the money, time or resources, he gave them freely,” Carol says.

“He was the most generous person I have ever met,” Tammy says. “He didn’t take a vacation the entire time I was in college – six years! And he cashed in all those vacation days to help pay for it.”

In addition to life lessons, he taught more than a dozen nieces and nephews to water ski, and he and Carol often hosted them at their home for a week during the summer. More than that, he gave them individual attention in a family so large it was easy to get lost. “He gave us the most important gift you can give a child,” says niece Kathryn Stroppel of Oregon. “He encouraged us. He made you want to be better.”

“He always made me feel important and always asked me how I was and what I was doing. He always took an interest,” says niece Brandi Backus of Macon.

“I can’t remember a time he didn’t have a smile and hug, as well as words of encouragement for me,” says niece Donna Bunton Thomas of Anabel. “I love that he made my children feel as special as he made me feel. I feel so very blessed to have had him in my life. I don’t know of many who loved his family more.”

Jerry is remembered as a tall, patient, self-made man with a wonderfully crooked smile who exhibited honor and integrity and who loved baseball, electronics and the latest technology, which he enjoyed putting to use to research anything that needed more careful examination, from retail purchases to advice from physicians. And he equally enjoyed sharing that knowledge.

“All through my life he was there teaching,” says his sister Linda Bunton of Macon. “There always had to be an answer to every question.”

Jerry was a lifelong member of the VFW, DAV, NRA, American Legion Post 57 and Vietnam Veterans of America and helped numerous veterans apply for earned benefits.

Surviving are Jerry’s wife, Carol; daughter Tammy Payne of Kansas City; daughter Cindy Payne Gooding and husband Danny Gooding of Lawson; granddaughters Ashley Rulon and husband Seth Rulon of Smithville and Amber Catchthebear No Heart and husband Dylan Catchthebear No Heart of Platte City; Shelby Gooding of Lawson; grandson Dillon Gooding of Lawson; brothers David Payne of Kansas City, Randy Payne of Lingo, and Bill Payne and John Payne of Macon; sisters Linda Bunton and Shirley Rufener of Macon and Margaret Bromley of Las Vegas; and numerous nieces, nephews and friends. Both of his parents, his 3-month-old granddaughter, Annalise, and four siblings – Phyllis Jones, Norma Payne, Larry Payne and Jessey Wayne – preceded him in death.

A memorial service will be held from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17, at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty, Mo. The graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 18, at Jacksonsville Veterans Cemetery.