Ben Taylor Fitzgerald (1925 - 2019)

Service Information
Burks-Walker-Tippitt Funeral Directors - Tyler
215 E. Front St.
Tyler, TX
Memorial service
Friday, Oct. 4, 2019
3:30 PM
Marvin United Methodist Church Sanctuary
Tyler, TX
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Following Services
Marvin United Methodist Church Sanctuary
Tyler, TX
View Map

Ben Taylor Fitzgerald, 94, passed away peacefully in his sleep at home in Chandler, Texas on September 30, 2019.

Ben was the third generation to live on family acreage 2 miles north of Chandler. Ben was born on August 24, 1925 on that very land to Taylor Trusvant and Jewell Powell Fitzgerald. Ben grew up helping on the family farm with such crops as tomatoes, strawberries and corn. Ben walked to Chandler Elementary to begin his education. He joined the Navy at 18 yrs of age and went to Pearl Harbor shortly after the attack. The shell shock of all those foul mouthed sailors committed Ben to a lifetime of no colorful language ever!

Upon returning home, he enrolled at Tyler Junior College where he met his wife of 64 years, Margie Lea Fitzgerald. He studied agriculture at Texas A&M but spent much more time on the road to Austin and the University of Texas to see his future wife which led to him to withdraw and enroll at Sam Houston State where he received and undergraduate and graduate degree in agriculture which led him to say, he "served his time" in Huntsville. He taught agriculture at a high school in South Texas and drove a bus. Soon after, Ben joined Beall Brothers Department Store in Beaumont, Texas and became a star suit salesman causing the store to send others from all over to see how he did it! While in Beaumont, Ben was introduced to real estate by his Uncle Bailey.

In 1957, Ben moved back to East Texas and started selling residential and farm and ranch real estate alone. Upon observing some grouchy old real estate guys, Ben dubbed himself the Optimistic Salesman which became his slogan. His business grew and eventually became one of the leading real estate brokerages in Tyler. Along the way, he began acquiring rent houses and some commercial properties as well as home building. For years he paid for and ran a small square ad every day in the Tyler newspaper that said, "Have a Happy Day."

Ben's only hobby other than "selling" was quail hunting in West Texas. In pursuit of quail, Ben kept bird dogs his entire adult life, had a kennel and a fulltime trainer with 150 dogs. Ben didn't take time to work with the dogs but wanted them to perform properly when put in the field. Ben's main hunting partner was Burton Rozelle, a friendly competitor in the real estate business in Tyler. He also enjoyed hunting with Calvin Clyde and Earl Shank. Ben's other enjoyment was scotch in the evening. He was always good for a stout one or two or six along with tales of bird dog successes. He was named Sportsman of the Year by Ducks Unlimited in 1982.

In addition, in the 70's, Ben built up from a standing start a Registered Red Brahman herd including a National Champion bull in 1977 at the Houston Astrodome. That grand champion bull was later showcased in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in Tyler for all to see. This business took him to Guatemala and Brazil where he judged a human beauty contest! As well he entertained visitors from many countries putting his guests up in the "Brahman Room" full of whiskey, steak and conversation.

Ben was a dedicated member at Marvin United Methodist Church and loved his Sunday School class, "The Friendly Class." If Ben was in town, he was in Sunday School and Church. And family members who weren't were "spoken to."

In 1998, Ben was presented a key to the City for 40 years of business involvement in the community of Tyler. He also served as President of the Tyler Board of Realtors in 1964 and 1975. He received the Glover Tunnell Award for Excellence in 2001. He was a member of the Board of the East Texas Fair for ** years. He served on the Mother Frances Board of Directors from 1983 to 2016, was Vice Chairman from 2002 to 2006 and was Chairman from 2007 to 2016. Ben was also a member of the Chandler Masonic Lodge for 65 years.

Ben is survived by his loving family including son and daughter-in-law, Buster and Brandy Fitzgerald, of Chandler; son and daughter-in-law, Bobby and Dallas Fitzgerald, of Tyler; daughter and son-in-law, Cindy and Mark Wylie, of Tyler; and daughter Wendy Wyche, of Tyler. Ben had 14 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren.

Special thanks to Ben's caregivers, Georgia Coleman, Iris, Vicky, Annie and Lexie. Also, thanks to Brittany Rain and Vernaille Marshall of East Texas Hospice.

A memorial service to celebrate Ben's life is scheduled for Friday, October 4, 2019, at 3:30pm and will be held at Marvin United Methodist Church Sanctuary in Tyler. Ben's family will receive visitors immediately following the service.

Honorary Pallbearers will be Taylor Burns, Dean Blackwell, Burton Rozelle, Rex Matthews, Earl Shank, Lindsey Bradley, Joe Fulgham, Calvin Clyde, Adolfo Dominguez, Taylor Fitzgerald, Jackson Fitzgerald, Coleman Fitzgerald, Shaffer Wylie and Ford Fitzgerald.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Marvin United Methodist Church, The Friendly Bible Class at Marvin or The Hospice of East Texas Foundation. To view online, please go to

Published in Tyler Morning Telegraph on Oct. 3, 2019
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