Phil Fitzwater turned his love of all things mechanical into his own businesses in Omaha and Des Moines.
Phillip D. Fitzwater died of lung cancer Friday at age 75, sitting in his motor home on the family acreage south of Waterloo, Neb., said his wife of 57 years, Barbara.
After graduating from Omaha South High School, the Omaha native worked at Blackey’s Machine Service Co. and later as a partner in All Makes Forklifts.
He started his own sales and service business, A-1 Forklifts, in a garage near Dinker’s Bar in 1965 and operated in the Vinton Street area until he retired in 2000. He also started A-1 Forklifts in Des Moines in 1980, operated by his son, Rick.
Many young mechanics started in the business working for Fitzwater, Barbara Fitzwater said. He belonged to the Vinton Street Commercial Club and the Vinton Street Golf League but lived in Waterloo for the last 40 years.
In retirement, Fitzwater rebuilt engines for antique cars, made yard art from farm equipment and railroad ties and traveled in his motor home with his wife and brother, Don, also of Waterloo.
Other survivors include sisters Arlene Wise of Council Bluffs, Gloria Houser of Bellevue and Rosemary Humason of Indio, Calif.; daughters Belinda Maxwell of Glenville, Pa., Susie Kaufhold of Omaha and Patty Shepherd of Valley; 10 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.