PETER M FITZSIMMONS -- February 19, 1936 to September 7, 2018
Peter Marcelus Fitzsimmons passed away on September 8, 2018, age 82, of pulmonary fibrosis and COPD at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King, WI. Pete is the first child born to Harold Clyde and Mary Catherine (McKernan) Fitzsimmons, Route 2, Dodgeville, Wisconsin, on February 19, 1936. Pete grew up on his parents’ large farm located on Highway 18, three miles west of Dodgeville, WI. Farm life meant an active, busy life for a young man and hard work was the name of the game. His aptitude for mechanics was likely formed there helping his dad with all the farm machinery and equipment.
Pete walked to Pine Grove School one and a half miles away to elementary school and then went to Dodgeville High School but had to quit midway to work on the farm. Later, he left the farm to do mechanical work, welding and roofing before joining the Air Force on February 19, 1956. Pete attended basic training at Parks Air Force Base in Walnut Creek, CA, and then was sent to A&E Mechanic School at Shepherd Air Force Base in Wichita Falls TX, where he learned to become an airplane engineer/mechanic. He spent over a year at Thule Air Base, Greenland, US Air Force's northernmost base and a Strategic Air Command base, where he served as flight mechanic/engineer, working on planes as large as C124s and as small as a Beechcraft "bisquit bombers." Pete had several accidents while serving in the US military--one during basic training in CA, to his arm and shoulder after falling off a large plane wing at Hunter Air Force Base in Savannah GA, and one to his back while loading heavy JATO (165# solid fuel rocket) bottles onto the jet rack to assist in take-off when the pilot or mechanical error dropped the rack onto the ground instead of doing so in the air.
Pete headed to the east coast after his military career and for many years was involved in several businesses--roofing and house construction, landscaping, logging and trucking. He eventually headed back west and got as far as Indiana and Michigan where he decided to work at Griswold Machine & Equipment to serve as their lead Detroit engine diesel mechanic for 10 years. When the company was sold, Pete settled down near Homer, MI, where he's lived ever since doing repair and mechanic work, reworking oil wells, and trucking.
Pete is survived by sisters, Betty (Ron) Dotseth, Wausau WI; Laura Linder, Ames IA; Marina (Ron) Horst, Ames IA; Margie Martin, Verona WI; Linda (Dan) Hooks, Owen WI; and Edith Fitzsimmons, Madison WI; and brother Henry (Kathy) Fitzsimmons, Surprise AZ w/summer home in WI, and sisters-in-law Adele Fitzsimmons and Donelle Fitzsimmons. He is also survived by his “adopted” daughter, Denise Jakimiak (“Squirt”), and many nieces and nephews. Pete also had so many very special friends back home in Michigan. Pete was preceded in death by his father in 1978, his mother in 2005, his brother Douglas in 1992, his sister Peggy Kilbreth in 2000, his sister Mary Abdoo in 2002, and little brother Joe Fitzsimmons in 2012. Joe’s widow, Donelle, has been a wonderful friend and supporter of Pete’s, especially during his illness this last year. He is also preceded in death by his “adopted” son, John Jakimiak in 2017, and his nephews Walter Linder in 1997, Rick Kilbreth in 2000, and Bradley Pertzborn in 2000 (on the same day as Pete’s sister Peggy). Pete also leaves behind some very faithful friends in Michigan.
A memorial service/burial of ashes with military honors and celebration of Pete's life will be held next summer at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. (His sister, Betty Dotseth, will be making the arrangements.)
Pete’s family would like to thank the staff at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King, WI for their care and special patience while he was a patient there. Special thanks also go to the staff of Heartland Hospice Care who worked so diligently to help make his days as comfortable as possible—their efforts to provide comfort are the best of the best.