James P. Fitzpatrick, who as a young man fled Ireland to find the American dream, died at his Kenwood home on Nov. 2 after a long illness. He was 85.

"He felt like it was the land of opportunity, that if you worked hard you could get ahead, and he did, no doubt about it," said his daughter, Jo Timmsen of Windsor. "The American dream wasn't becoming rich, it was that you could have more for your family than you had."

One of 14 children, he grew up poor in Borris, Carlow County, Ireland, leaving for America in 1949, at the age of 22, with some of other siblings.

He immediately went to work in Philadelphia, Penn., at the C&D Battery plant, starting at the bottom sweeping floors and working his way up to management, his daughter said.

In 1963, he was transferred to Sonoma County to be the superintendent of the new C&D Battery in Santa Rosa.

When that plant closed, he went to work in San Leandro for an affiliated company which provided and serviced industrial batteries, Timmsen said.

The family settled in Kenwood, where Fitzpatrick lived for 49 years.

He was married to his wife, Winnie E. Fitzpatrick, a prolific poet and short-story author, for 57 years. She died in March 2008.

"He was very humorous, always had a joke to crack, a smile on his face, he enjoyed life and his sense of humor is what most people remember about him," his daughter said.

Fitzgerald was a member of the Oakmont Golf club and an avid golfer, with a 7 handicap and three hole-in-ones.

After an arthritic hip forced him to give up golf, he was a regular at the YWCA in Santa Rosa, where he became a member of the Y's Old Mens Club.

"Arthritis swimming was a big part of his life after he quit golf. These guys would meet at 10, jabber jabber until 10:30, they had T-shirts made up, &‘the old farts club,'" his daughter said.

In addition to his daughter Jo Timmsen of Windsor, he is survived by son Martin Fitzpatrick of San Luis Obispo; a brother, Art Fitzpatrick of Concord; two grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

A celebration of his life will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Kenwood Community Church.

The Neptune Society handled arrangements.

— Bob Norberg