Columbus, OH — John Philip “Phil” Fitzwater, 76, of Continental, Ohio, died Oct. 29, 2020, at Mercy Health St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima.
He was born July 4, 1944, in Paulding County to the late Walter and Evalena (Sharp) Fitzwater. On Dec. 29, 1962, he married JoAnn Robinson; she survives in Continental.
He is also survived by his sons, Lynn (Norma), Jeff (Monica), Eric (Tina) and Shane (Michelle); grandchildren, Chelsie (Gary) Powell, Jennifer, Michael, Cole (Megan), Katie (Jordan) Marbaugh, CarrieJo (Bryan) Verhoff, Sydnie (Tyler Curtis), Erica (Evan) Prowant, Paige, Brystol and Brady; step-grandchildren, Brittany (Lee Schultheis) Paxton and Brandon (Theresa) Paxton; great-grandchildren, Carter Powell, Camdyn Powell, Rhamsie Parrish, Pace, Lane, Harper Marbaugh, Jace Verhoff, Kendall Verhoff, and Delaney Prowant, with two more on the way; step-great-grandchildren, Kaydence Kunsman, Gabe Brinner, Damien Brinner, and Kali Paxton; sisters, Linda (Michael) Shaffer and Jo (Nick) Doster; brother-in-law, Kenny (Judy) Robinson; and two good friends and bonus sons, Ryan Ordway and Paul Herr. He was preceded in death by a brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Tom (Rita) Robinson; and great-granddaughters, Rheese Parrish and Rhylie Parrish.
Mr. Fitzwater was a 1962 graduate of Continental High School, where he was a standout catcher on the baseball team. After graduating, he began to work on the family farm which he later took over. Today, his sons and grandson, Cole, continue the tradition.
His other passion included the sport of harness racing. Some of his favorite and best horses included Legal Jewel, Pocket Money, Hottest Quest, and Hey Hey Fitzie. All were multiple open winners at Toledo Raceway Park and Jackson Raceway.
He loved to race at the fairs and raced numerous horses in the Northwestern Ohio, North Central Ohio, and Western Ohio Colt Racing Associations. He passed his passion of the sport on to Cole and continued to travel with him to numerous tracks throughout Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. He especially loved traveling with Cole to Raceway Park in Toledo and Lebanon Raceway. He enjoyed spending time in the drivers and trainers lounge to talk with other horsemen.
Mr. Fitzwater never knew a stranger and could always be recognized in a crowd by his hearty laugh.
He was a member of the USTA and the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association. He was a proud supporter of R3 Motor Sports. He enjoyed racing of all kinds, but was especially fond of harness racing and tractor pulls.
He attended Junction Bible Christian Church, Junction.
He was very supportive of his grandkids and all of their activities and loved getting together with family and friends. He enjoyed trips to Amish Country.
There will be private service, with burial in Monroe Cemetery, Continental. The family will hold a public celebration of life at a later date.
Instead of sending flowers, the family requests memorial contributions may be made to Wounded Warriors, Continental Baseball and Softball Club, 204 W. Park St., Continental, OH 45831 or the Harness Horse Youth Foundation, 2711 Friar Tuck Road, Anderson, IN 46013.