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William Thomas Fitzgerald

May 23, 2012
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

William Thomas Fitzgerald passed away Friday, May 18, 2012, surrounded by his loving family. He was born Sept. 1, 1926, in Akron, Ohio, to John W. and Mary E. (McAlonan) Fitzgerald. He married Rita Barbara Gerraghty, daughter of Thomas J. and Catherine C. (Zimmerman) Gerraghty, Sept. 6,1947, and she survives.

Also surviving are four sons, Thomas J. Fitzgerald of Findlay, Dennis M. and Anita L. (Lowe) Fitzgerald of Findlay, John W. and Sally (Wadsworth) Fitzgerald of Louisville, Ky., and James P. and Denise (Backstrom) Fitzgerald of Tupelo, Miss. He had six grandchildren, Erin Fitzgerald, Michael Fitzgerald, Kathleen Fitzgerald, Maureen Fitzgerald, Irene Fitzgerald and Jodi (Fitzgerald) Fleming and her husband Neil Fleming; two great-grandchildren, Kylie Fleming and Mackenzie Fleming; and three step-grandchildren, Marc, Garrett and Tessa Wadsworth.

Following his graduation from St. Vincent High School in 1944, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and proudly served until the end of World War II. After the war, he attended the University of Akron on the G.I. bill, graduating with honors in 1950. In 1969, he graduated from The Harvard College Advanced Management School.

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William Thomas Fitzgerald

Mr. Fitzgerald took a position with Cooper Tire & Rubber Company as a salesman in 1953 and rose to the position of president and chief operating officer by the time of his retirement in 1991. He is largely credited with the rise of Cooper Tire from a small regional manufacturer to an International Fortune Five Hundred Corporation. He was inducted into the tire industry hall of fame in 1992. After his retirement, he lived principally in Cape Coral.

He initiated the first Community Development Foundation. He also played a significant role in the development of The Tall Timbers Industrial Park as a free trade zone. Bill and Rita endowed the William T. and Rita B. Fitzgerald Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Akron. He was also recognized as a distinguished alumnus of the University of Akron in 1997 and was awarded the Silver Beaver Award for his services to Put Han Sen Council of The National Boy Scouts of America.

While he is recognized as a local business leader, few are aware of all the schools, organizations and foundations which have benefitted from his financial generosity and business accomplishments. A few of the recipients were St. Vincent and St. Mary's High School, The University of Akron, Boy Scouts of America, The University of Findlay, Blanchard Valley Hospital, Birchaven and The Hancock County Historical Society, as well as many others.

He was a member of the Findlay Skeet Club, Findlay Country Club, the Catawba Island Club, Cape Coral Country Club and had an ownership interest in Red Hawk Run Golf Course and residential community. In the spring of 2011, he had the distinct privilege of taking the Honor Flight to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Hel was a man totally devoted to his family. He enjoyed golf, yachting, hunting, fishing and time with family and friends. He will be dearly missed by his entire family and friends worldwide.

The family wants to extend special thanks to all of his caregivers and Bridge Home Health & Hospice.

Visitaion was Tuesday, May 22,at Coldren-Crates Funeral Home, Findlay. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m., today, May 23, at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church on Bright Road in Findlay. Father Mike Hohenbrink will officiate and burial will be at St. Michael's Cemetery. Full military rites will be performed by the Hancock County Veteran's Memorial Squad.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made in his name to St. Michael's School Foundation, Bridge Home Health & Hospice, Boy Scouts of America, Black Swamp Council or the Hancock County Historical Society.

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