OBITUARY

Benjamin Edward Fitzpatrick Jr.

April 7, 1942May 29, 2020
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Benjamin Edward “Ed” Fitzpatrick, Jr. transitioned peacefully on May 29, 2020, at his residence. Ed was born in Elyria, Ohio, on April 7, 1942, to Benjamin Edward, Sr. and Mary Frances Fitzpatrick, and grew up in Oberlin, Ohio. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, in 1964. He was a schoolteacher before shifting to a career in the automotive industry in 1968, where his determination and drive would eventually pave the way for minority-owned car dealerships everywhere.

Beginning as a management trainee, Ed worked his way up at the Chrysler Corporation, holding numerous management positions, including National Minority Dealer Development Manager, before joining Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. as a Dealer Placement Administrator. He was promoted to Market Representation Manager for the Los Angeles Region soon after and then worked as the National Dealer Development Manager for Mitsubishi Motors Sales before establishing the Fitzpatrick Dealer Group in 1989.

Over the ensuing years, he purchased numerous car dealerships, including Puget Sound Chrysler-Plymouth and Puget Sound Dodge in Renton, Washington, and Valley Lexus, Valley BMW, and Valley Kia in Modesto, California. In 2000, he sold Puget Sound Chrysler-Plymouth and Puget Sound Dodge, and in 2002, he opened his flagship store—Coliseum Lexus of Oakland. In 2006, Fitzpatrick Dealership Group became the largest Black-owned dealership in California.

Steadfastly committed to advancing diversity in the automotive industry, Ed worked tirelessly to promote opportunities for minorities. He served as Chairman of the National Association of Minority Auto Dealers and the California New Car Dealers Association; President of the Chrysler Minority Dealer Association; and was the founding president of the Toyota/Lexus Minority Owners Dealership Association.

In recognition of his vast accomplishments, Ed received numerous honors including the Vision Award (National Association of Minority Auto Dealers), Dealer of the Year (California New Car Dealers Association), Quality Dealer of the Year (Time Magazine), and Small Business of the Year Award (Oakland African-American Chamber of Commerce.) For his lifetime of contributions to the American auto industry, Ed was honored with the David F. Mungenast Sr. Lifetime Achievement Award (American International Automobile Dealers), the Black Enterprise Dealer of the Year Award (Black Enterprise magazine), and the Lifetime Achievement Award (National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers). Ed was also inducted into The HistoryMakers for his contribution to the automobile industry, with his oral history archived in the Library of Congress.

A leader, pioneer, visionary, advocate, and entrepreneur, Ed’s passion for cars—the faster, the better—was matched only by his passion for people. He proudly supported numerous charitable organizations with his time and financial resources, including the East Oakland Youth Development Center, the Shelter Cove Community Church, California State University - Stanislaus, the First Tee of Oakland and Modesto, the Modesto Black Men & Women’s Association, the Modesto Salvation Army, the Junior Golf Association of Northern California, and Relief, Inc. He also funded numerous scholarships and wrote checks to the children of his employees when they earned As, encouraging the success of the next generation.

A risk-taker with a big heart, Ed traveled extensively, read avidly, and lived life to the fullest. Anything fast—be it a car, cigarette boat, or race car—delighted him. Whether building an automobile empire or learning to race cars in Italy, Ed relentlessly pursued his dreams with the rare combination of strength and humility that defined him. A die-hard sports fan with an equal passion for supporting education, Ed funded numerous scholarships at California State University, Stanislaus, and never missed a chance to cheer on the Warriors, whose arena—the Ed and Bertha Fitzpatrick Arena—is named in his honor.

Mourning Ed’s death is his loving and devoted wife, Bertha; adoring sons Sean Fitzpatrick (Bree) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (Jenise); beloved grandchildren Katrina, Devin, Darius, and Danika Fitzpatrick; and numerous brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins, and friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you thoughtfully consider making a memorial donation to support athletic scholarships at Stanislaus State or to the Building Improvement Fund at New Zion Baptist Church in Wiggins, Mississippi.

The online link for Stanislaus State is https://bit.ly/AthleticsScholarships or donations may be mailed to California State University Stanislaus, Division of University Advancement, One University Circle MSR 300, Turlock, CA 95382.

Memorial gifts to New Zion Baptist Church may be made online at www.newzionofwiggins.org. Select "give online" and make donation comment: "building improvement fund" or donations can be mailed to New Zion Baptist Church 103 Thelma Andrews Rd Wiggins, MS 39577.

  • PALLBEARERS

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick , Pallbearer
  • Sean Fitzpatrick , Pallbearer
  • Mark Fitzpatrick , Pallbearer
  • Devin Fitzpatrick, Pallbearer
  • Charles Phillips, Pallbearer
  • Jerry Cooper, Pallbearer

Services

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

Memories

Benjamin Edward Fitzpatrick Jr.

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Dr. Yolanda LeNoir Arowolo

July 1, 2020

May Your Soul R.I.P.
I knew you through a mutual friend, and you were always a voice of inspiration and wisdom. I’m grateful to have been privileged to cross paths with such a great man. Blessing and Love!

Connie and Lapondza Woolridge

June 24, 2020

Dear Bertha,
The Woolridge family sends their deepest sympathies to you and your family during this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. May God bless you and your family.

Connie, Lapondza, Ryan and Peri

Dawn Boss

June 24, 2020

I remember standing on the steps at Big Valley church. My husband had just bought me a brand new Lexus. Pearl white with the gold package and white leather seats. I had the car about a month by then. Ed was trying to get me to trade it in. When I said no, it's not even broke in, Ed leaned back with a big belly laugh and said... Now Dawn you know your husband can afford it , so come in and buy another one. As we were walking away Ed yelled he would be expecting us. Even though he laughed, I think he meant it. HA. GOTTA LOVE ED.

Modesto-Stanislaus NAACP 1048

June 21, 2020

The NAACP extends its heartfelt sympathy to the Fitzpatrick family

Sandra Hjertquist

June 13, 2020

If it weren’t for Bertha and Ed, I never would’ve landed my feet here in this valley. We moved over here to help Ed open Valley Bmw. I was eight months pregnant and it was hot. I remember Ed and Bertha showing up the first night with ice cream and welcoming us and thanking us. He asked me why I trusted him enough to move over here when I was eight months pregnant. I laughed and told him that I trusted God not him LOL. His response was “Now Sandra, that is the correct answer”.
Bertha and Ed opened their home to our children and us, and Ed will be very missed by this community and everybody’s lives that he has touched. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Bertha, and the rest of your family as well. Let me know if you need anything.

Claude Tolbert

June 12, 2020

Uncle Ed was truly a one of a kind. Beneath the tough exterior was a kind and gentle soul. He offered me wisdom and opened his home to me even though I was not a blood relation. He is missed but will never be forgotten.

Sirak Tegbaru

June 9, 2020

My sincere condolence and deepest sympathy for the loss of my X boss and friends Ed Fitzpatrick.
While the loss of a loved one is never easy, even when anticipated, it is most certainly the hardest when they are taken from us . Memories, is one place we can visit those we’ve lost. Since memories are portable, we can take our lost loved ones with us anywhere at any time.
I ask for God's blessings on your family.
May they find the courage and strength to move forward in peace and confidence.

God bless his soul,

Sirak ”Sonny” Tegbaru

Janis Bombacie

June 9, 2020

We remember with fondness & laughter the friendship our families shared in soccer, school, neighborhood, & the Pro Club. You are all in our prayers. We miss you. Lovingly, The Bombacies.

Lynne Miyatake

June 8, 2020

I learned many lessons from Ed and Bertha..he was a visionary in a town that was looking for that in a businessman. Our hearts go out to Ryan and the whole family. Ed...miss you but will continue to share your stories for you.
Lynne Miyatake
Former Lexus DSM to
Valley Lexus and Lexus of Oakland

Patrick and Penny Corcoran

June 8, 2020

Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time. We remember the soccer years in Redmond with all the boys.
The Corcoran family

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