In memory of
Alan Douglas Fitzsimons
Alan Douglas Fitzsimons
July 7, 1953 - Sept. 23, 2019
Alan was born in Salem, Ore., to Hulda R. (Beckley) and Eric L. Fitzsimons. He grew up in Jefferson, Stayon, Cloverdale, Ore., Camas, Wash., and graduated from Beaverton High School in 1971.
Beginning employment as a carpenter's helper, he barely survived a fiery car accident. After nine months in the hospital and dozens of skin graft surgeries he returned to his parents' home. Without eyesight or fingers he faced an uncertain future and initially self-medicated with alcohol while maneuvering his new life. He then checked himself into rehabilitation, developed a support network through Alcoholics Anonymous and was proud of his 35 years of sobriety. He completed training in independent living with the State Commission for the Blind and moved into a small apartment in Portland. Braille and white-cane mobility were difficult but be felt the companionship and guidance of a trained dog might help. He went to Palm Desert for instruction with Guide Dogs of the Desert. He found the warmer climate kinder to his burn scars, developed new contacts through AA and with his first dog Buddy moved into subsidized housing in Indio and then Palm Springs. Sober and with a steady guide, Alan developed a new life, utilizing two parts of his body that were physically undamaged: his heart and his brain. New ventures included stand-up comedy; developing skills as a blues harmonicist; writing lyrics and music (recording one CD, "Cell Phonies" as Blind Alan Rude); playing goalball with the "Hell Divers"; and writing and self-publishing several books which he sold at the local public market. He refused to be considered "disabled" and did not write about his experiences and aftermath of his accident. However, in his first book, The Buddy System, he described developing a partnership with his first guide dog. He was starting with his fifth dog when he died of inoperable cancer. In addition to his creative endeavors, he was a gifted, humorous but tough-minded counselor to many AA members who have expressed their sense of loss at Alan's death. He was a frequent motivational speaker at AA conventions and was invited twice to speak at the Betty Ford Center.
Alan and his dog regularly returned to Oregon to visit his family. He is survived by his mother, Hulda; sisters, Eileen and Katy (Portland); brother, Stuart (Salem); nephews, Freeman Tong (Portland), Jeffrey (Salem), James Graves (California); nieces, Vanessa (Twin Falls), Eva (Milwaukie), McCaina (Arizona), their spouses and many cousins.
All are welcome at his memorial service at 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, at the First United Methodist Church, 12555 S.W. 4th, Beaverton. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Guide Dogs of the Desert, P.O. Box 1692, Palm Springs, CA 92263.
Please sign the online guest book at www.oregonlive.com/obits
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