James W. Fitzpatrick joined his beloved mother and father in eternal rest, passing peacefully on Wednesday (July 7, 2021) at his home in Whitesville, at the age of 92.
Born in Hornell on December 3, 1928, Jim was the only son and youngest of the three children of George and Mary Fitzpatrick.
As a young boy, Jim worked at the Borden Milk Plant (the future site of Whitesville Wood Products) and set up the bowling pins by hand at a local bowling alley. He graduated from Whitesville Central School in 1947 and studied to be an electrician in St. Lawrence for two years.
He was drafted in the United States Army in 1949 during the Korean War. Like many others of his generation, he kissed his parents goodbye and bravely boarded a bus to an unknown fate. He served in the 82nd airborne and quickly settled in to the structure and routine of military life. When asked if it was difficult, he replied “no, it was really pretty simple. You just did everything that you were told.” Jim credited his mother’s prayers for keeping him from combat and out of harm’s way. He was honorably discharged in 1951, leaving with a strengthened devotion to God and his country.
When he returned home, he did electrical work as a journeyman, including installing the electric at the Texas Hot Restaurant in Wellsville.
In 1967, Jim’s life forever changed when a friend from Ralston Purina suggested that he start a poultry business. He first purchased 396 acres, then another 100, and grew the business from 48,000 to over half a million chickens. At its peak in the 1980s and 1990s, the farm produced 27,000 to 30,000 eggs per day with distribution throughout the country and the world. He spent many years operating Fitzpatrick Poultry Farms, casually driving “up the hill” in his pickup truck with the “Luv Eggs” license plate.
With his entrepreneurial spirit and strong work ethic, he successfully developed many other businesses including a hog farm, Fitzpatrick Cable, Whitesville Wood Products, and a Days Inn hotel in Corning, NY, which he redeveloped with his son as the Downtown Corning Hilton Garden Inn.
On December 30, 1969 Jim married Sandra Jean Allen in Whitesville, and together they made a wonderful life that also blessed their family and community.
Like his beloved father George, Jim was “a real character,” always quick with a joke and eager to chat. He loved animals, especially dogs, and had a special fondness for cocker spaniels.
He was a devout Catholic with deep faith and rarely missed weekly mass. Heartbroken by the closing of the St. John of the Cross Parish in the early 2000s, he purchased the building and donated it to the Independence Historical Society. In 2006, in recognition of his contributions to the Whitesville community, he was honored as its Citizen of the Year. He was truly the heart and soul of Whitesville.
While he took pride in his business success and the employment opportunities that it created, Jim treasured family, friends, and faith above all else and lived a simple life of humility and gratitude. His affable nature, sense of humor, and generous spirit endeared him to the community that he loved.
Jim is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 51 years, Sandra; sister, Ruth (Fitzpatrick) Solley; son, Kerry Fitzpatrick; daughter, Julie (Jamie) Szpylman; stepdaughters, Tamie Wildman, Darla (Kevin) Ellison, Lorie Wildman; his grandchildren, Nicholas Szpylman, Lauren Szpylman, Justin Slocum, Christian Slocum, Zackery Wildman, Brittany Ellison, Rachel Ellison, Tyler Mackey, and Bryanna Mackey; and several nieces, and nephews.
In addition to his mother and father, Jim was predeceased by his sister, Anna “Jean” (Fitzpatrick) Clark; brother-in-law and close friend, James Clark; niece, Patricia (Clark) Stebbins; nephew, Daniel Ainsworth; stepdaughter, Cindy (Wildman) Slocum; and close friend, Walter “Walt” Folts.
There will be a time of visitation on Sunday (July 11) from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. at Baker-Swan Funeral Home in Wellsville/Scio. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday at 11:00 a.m. at Immaculate Conception Church in Wellsville. Burial with full military honors will follow in Whitesville Rural Cemetery. Online condolences may be offered at www.baker-swan.com. ©2021 Baker-Swan Funeral Home.