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Kenneth C. Fitzgibbons

Posted: Tuesday, Apr 23rd, 2013

Kenneth C. Fitzgibbons, aged 93, died peacefully in his sleep at his care home in Roseville on Saturday, April 13, 2013.

He is survived by his children Berdell Spellman, Michael Coe, Dr. Jean Fitzgibbons Carter, Dr. Michael Fitzgibbons and grandchildren Benjamin Coe, Kelly Spellman, Dr. Keith Spellman, Sachiko Fitzgibbons, Dr. Mariko Fitzgibbons, Colleen Duncan and Yuriko Fitzgibbons. He is also survived by John Nielsen, his lifelong friend, and cousins John Jenkins and Lillian Peterson.

Born in San Miguel on Feb. 28, 1920 to May Moore and Otis Fitzgibbons, Ken attended the Bee Rock School and graduated from Paso Robles High School in 1938. After the death of his parents, he was raised by his uncle Dewey Moore and his wife, Rose Moore (Kavanagh).

Ken served in the United States Navy during World War II at Guadalcanal from Sept. 7, 1942 to February 1943, where he operated a Higgins boat and took part in the US Marine Point Cruz landings and rescue operations following the naval battles around Savo Island, Guadalcanal, September-November 1942. On Guadalcanal, he contracted malaria and dengue fever. During the Korean War, Ken again served in the Navy, achieving the rank of warrant officer.

Ken graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1948 and June 16 that same year married Margaret Mary Barnett, a registered nurse.

Ken taught for 30 years at Samuel Gompers Continuation High School in Richmond. He was a national vice president of the American Federation of Teachers and organized one of the first teachers’ strikes for health benefits in California. Ken also constructed 11 apartment buildings in Richmond and El Cerrito, as well as his longtime residence at 1050 Villa Nueva Dr., El Cerrito. Following his retirement from teaching in 1980, Ken and Margaret compiled a history of his wife Margaret’s branch of the Barnett family in America. He also assisted her in writing a history of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in California. Ken was a longtime member of the AFT, the Sons of the Golden West, the Civil War Roundtable in San Francisco, Knights of Columbus, and the San Luis Obispo Genealogical Society.

His beloved wife Margaret Fitzgibbons (Barnett) died April 12, 2009.

Ken was a beloved father, husband, teacher, and mentor. Ken loved wildlife, history, genealogy, reading, and crosswords. He was a wonderful storyteller and regaled his family and friends with stories about his experiences in during the Depression and teaching. 

One cannot express in words the delightful mind Ken possessed. He was admired for his vocabulary and extensive fund of knowledge; teaching us words like amanuensis, factotum, and grand panjandrum, and the ways of so many wild creatures, the back country around Tierra Redonda and Kavanagh Creek, near Paso Robles.

Now we miss him, as he missed his ‘“Boss” Margaret. We miss his wonderful playful sense of humor, his “smartz” as he used to say, his perennial question, “Did you learn anything today?” Everywhere we look we see something that reminds us of him. That is his gift. How lucky we were. He will be greatly missed.

A mass was held for Ken at Mission San Miguel, San Miguel on Monday, April 22, 2013 at 10 a.m. He was to be buried at the Paso Robles Cemetery following the mass with a reception at the Paso Robles Inn.

Donations may be sent in his name to the Saint Vincent De Paul Society, SPCA, or Boy’s Town.

For the complete article see the 04-23-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 04-23-2013 paper.

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