Herbert Allen Fitzsimmons

November 8, 1932September 1, 2020

Herbert Allen Fitzsimmons, 87, of Nitro passed away peacefully at home to be with the Lord on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 after a long illness.

He was born on November 8, 1932 to the late Elwood and Myrtle Fitzsimmons. He was also preceded in death by his grandson, Chad Fortney.

Herb played football for Stonewall Jackson, Morris Harvey, and the Charleston Rockets. He was instrumental in bringing semi-pro football back to the Kanawha Valley with the WV Rockets.

He served in the United States Marine Corp and USMC Reserves for 9 years.

For many years, Herb competed in power lifting competitions, holding many records. He also served as a mentor and coach to many.

Left to cherish his memory are his wife of 51 years, Janet; daughters, Sherry Mohler (Dave) of Charleston, Gina Underwood (John) of Nitro, Marjorie “Susie” Fitzsimmons of Chicago, Susan Hutton of Virginia, and Jill Wheeler (Randy) of Nitro; grandchildren, Nicholas Fortney, Matthew Underwood, Will Mohler, Lexy Light, and James Wheeler; and great-grandchildren, and extended family and friends.

Due to covid-19, a private family graveside service will be at Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes. At this time the family is hoping to have a celebration of his life at a later date.

Thank you for the kind support from HospiceCare, WV. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to in his honor.

Survival of the fittest

Publication: THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE Published: Sunday, February 22, 2004 Page: P19L Byline: By Sandy Wells

Herb Fitzsimmons started lifting weights in the Charles Atlas era.

Remember those ads about not letting bullies kick sand in your face?

"I started in 1950, my last year in high school," he said. "Very few people lifted then, especially athletes. Everyone said you'll get muscle-bound and won't be able to run as fast or play football as well." Fifty-four years later, at age 71, he's still lifting weights. And by the way, he played football very well, thank you.

Most Charlestonians remember Herb Fitzsimmons as a star linebacker for the Charleston Rockets from 1964 to 1968. He also played football at Stonewall and at what was then Morris Harvey College.

As a weight-room athlete, he was ahead of his time. "Now everybody does it. High schools, colleges and the pros all have weight lifting programs." Fitzsimmons made his living in construction, but never dropped his sideline passion for lifting. "This is my 54th year." In 1962, he opened Herb's Gym at Five Corners. After a couple of moves, the gym has settled at the Nitro Community Center, where it attracts police department, fire department and other city employees and lots of fitness-minded seniors.

"Lifting helps your health," he said. "It helps coordination. You use your muscles differently, muscles that wouldn't be used if you didn't lift weights or do something on the machines. It has to help you mentally because you have better circulation, so it's good for mind and body.

And it's especially good for older people, he said. "I compare it to a house or automobile. If you don't run it or take care of it, it will break down. A house will fall apart if you don't maintain it. You have to maintain your body. You need to exercise it." He emphasizes the need for supervision, at least in the early going.

At the gym, he starts newcomers on light weights, gradually increasing the poundage and sets as they improve. "A lot of them come in and lift wrong and lift too much weight. There's a proper way to breathe, a proper way to do each exercise. You need some personal training to start with." He did some Olympic lifting in the '50s and '60s, and focused on power lifting in the '70s.

For 11 years, Fitzsimmons lifted in contests that took him all over the country. He entered his first power-lifting contest in New Martinsville in 1976. Already past 40, he qualified immediately as a master power lifter. He competed regularly until 1982.

He still holds state bench press records in the (over 40) master's division - 425 in the 242-pound weight class; 462 pounds in the 275-pound weight class. He set the records without a bench press shirt.

In 2001, he benched in a state meet. He didn't worry about his competition. "They didn't have anyone else in my class," he said, "so I was bound to win." His best efforts include a bench press lift of 463 3/4 pounds, a 750-pound dead lift and a 750-pound squat.

"I never did smoke or drink," he said. "I think that's important in health." He stands 5-feet-11 and weighs 225 pounds. He eats pretty much what he wants but emphasizes more protein and less fat. The low-carb craze isn't for him. "I need the carbs to work out."


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Herbert Allen Fitzsimmons

have a memory or condolence to add?

mike lilly

September 7, 2020

I worked with Herb for many years & learned many great life lessons which I still practice today. He, Ike Hartman, Boyce Jarrett, Henry Summers and Bob Orders were all my idols. Also he was "fearless and fierce" on any gridiron!" I was an eye witness to his career from Stonewall through the Rockets. " He ain't dead & God just drafted him to be his Middle Linebacker!!!"

Kathy McKinley

September 4, 2020

Jill & Family:
Sincere sympathies on the loss of your father.

You are in my thoughts and prayers as you remember a life well lived.

Deepest condolences,
Kathy McKinley

Mary Duke

September 4, 2020

I am so sorry to hear about Herb's illness and subsequent passing.
I have such good memories of Herb and his family. He was always so gracious and kind to me. I had not seen Herb in recent years but never had forgotten what a great person he was and thought about Herb and the family so very often. The world will miss you Herb.
Rest in Peace
Love, Mary

VIC Green

September 3, 2020

I believe that Herb was one of my idols as i was playing football at WVU. He spoke at our football banquet at Rupert High School in 1960 and what a honor to have known Herb all these years. I had the honor to work as a teenager at Central Asphalt Paving and he did take good care of me and taught me about weight lifting. Will miss him and sorry I did not get to know his entire family but he was a idol to me.

Annetta Haddox

September 3, 2020

Susan, you and your momma are in our thoughts and prayers. Much love and peace of Christ!

Betty Payne

September 3, 2020

Fond memories of Herb and his family. My Grandma would have the most wonderful home comings and at that homecoming Cousins by the dozen would be there. We loved or tine together which did not happen often as my family lived in Boone Co. and we lacked transportation. I cherish those beautiful memories. My love to Janet and all of the family. Praying for God to comfort each pf you.


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