FSR's co-founder and chairman Bill Fitzsimmons died on October 25 at the age of 91. He passed at his home in Boca Raton, FL after a year-long battle with cancer. According to FSR, his business partner, dearest friend, and companion Jan Sandri was at his side.
“Bill was a gentleman to the core,” said Sandri. “He lived life to the fullest, enjoying the challenges of running a successful business and contributing to an exciting and invigorating industry. But he especially loved being surrounded by family, either those he was related to, or his FSR family. Our hearts break with our loss as we mourn the passing of a great leader, friend, colleague, inspiration, and—quite simply—a kind human being.”
Fitzsimmons received a B.S. degree from Boston College, an M.B.A. from Babson College, and an M.S. in Physics from Tufts University. His early career included positions in the Budd Company and the ITT Defense Group, Avionics division, working on both TACAN and LORAN navigation systems. He subsequently moved on to sales engineering where he successfully worked on many large government contracts.
In his spare time and as a hobby, he designed and built the first control system for the New Jersey Lottery for a friend who owned Charles Maltby Exhibits, and then designed and built the first dissolve systems for Charles Rodriguez at AV Services.
Fitzsimmons joined Charles Rodriguez as a partner in AV Services in the early 1970s to pioneer AV integration solutions, working closely with the Wilke Organization and developing pivotal products for use in large AV projects throughout New York and New Jersey.
“Bill reasoned that if AV Services needed these products, other companies did also,” Sandri explained. “So on February 1, 1981 FSR (Fitzsimmons, Sandri, Rodriguez) was launched with Bill as the product designer/builder, Charlie as the financial person, and me as the sales component. Our very first customer, other than AV Services, was Ancha Electronics.”
Fitzsimmons’ ingenuity continued as he worked on products with Jeff Loether, founder and president of Electro-Media Design, then with Marriott, creating the first Ballroom Combining Systems in the industry. He also created large video switching equipment for IBM Classrooms at their training facilities. When it came to electronics, he loved a challenge and his products have lasted for decades.
Sandri added, “Active until the end, Bill loved attending the Infocomm shows, which he did every year, talking to friends, old and new. InfoComm attendees will surely remember him as an iconic figure zipping through the show halls on his FSR Scooter.”
Fitzsimmons turned over the reins of FSR to Jan Sandri 10 years ago, moving into the position of chairman. For the past four years, Fitzsimmons enjoyed a wonderful life in Boca Raton where he worked on his many hobbies, and served as the vice president of Kindness Shared Happiness Squared, a charity that helps children and animals in need.
Fitzsimmons was predeceased by his wife, Paula, and his daughter Carol. Survivors include his son William and his wife Peggy; his son Paul and his wife Mary; two sisters, Carol Fitzsimmons and Paula Fitzsimmons; and his best friend, Jan Sandri.