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A brief story of Lt. Fitzsimons legacy

Lt. Fitzsimons, a graduate of St. Marys College, was the first American officer to die in France during World War 1 on September 7, 1917. He was born in Burlington, Kansas in 1889. He attended St. Marys College from 1906-1908. He then attended St. Marys School of Medicine at the University of Kansas where he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in 1910 followed by his medical degree in 1912. He interned for a year at St. Marys Hospital in Kansas City before leaving for New York to study surgery at Roosevelt Hospital. He volunteered his services as a surgeon in England and Belgium in 1914-1915 under the direction of the famous surgeon Sir William Osler prior to the United States entering the war. He returned to Kansas City where he resumed his surgical practice and joined the faculty of the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Upon the United States entering the war in 1917, he received orders to report to the Harvard Hospital Unit at Base Hospital 5 at Dannes-Camiers on the coast of France. On September 7, 1917, German war planes flew over the military hospital dropping bombs and killing Lt. Fitzsimons along with 4 other enlisted Soldiers. He was the first American officer to die in France yet he was not a combatant. As news spread of his death, spontaneous testimonies and eulogies were offered that provided testimony to his dedication and sense of self-less service to his profession and helping his fellow men. Several memorials were soon created in honor of his memory. The first was from the military itself when the Army renamed its Hospital #21 in Aurora, Colorado to Fitzsimons Army Hospital in 1920 which became a major medical center until 1999 when it finally closed. The citizens of Kansas City then had a memorial fountain built at 12th and the Paseo in Kansas City off of I-70 in 1922 which is still present. And finally, a free standing memorial arch that marked the former gateway to St. Marys College was subsequently constructed in honor of Lt. Fitzsimons and eighteen other St. Marys alumni who died during the world war and dedicated in 1923 during the Diamond Jubilee Celebration of St. Marys College. Lt. Fitzsimons’ mother, Governor Davis and the Bishop Ward of Leavenworth, who offered a pontifical Mass for the Diamond Jubilee, as well as numerous military units from Fort Riley and the Kansas National Guard were all in attendance. This memorial arch still stands today and is an iconic symbol of St. Marys College mission of graduating students of character. 

Intent of Scholarship.

Lt. Fitzsimons was the recipient of a liberal arts program at St. Marys College which was provided by a classical Jesuit approach to education with emphasis on the humanities to include history, literature, philosophy and theology. This approach has been critical in developing in a young person the ability to reason, discern and apply the knowledge of the world around us and the eternal truths that underlay them to problem solve, create solutions and help humanity through the Jesuit motto “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” or “To the Greater Glory of God”. It can be surmised that this exposure and educational training was critical in the development of Lt. Fitzsimons exceptional character.  Though the Jesuits have long been gone, the current St. Marys College has been gradually creating a program to replicate this approach to education and character formation. This scholarship is to provide an additional resource to initiate their entry into collegiate study. 

Criteria. 

The following criteria will serve as the basis for the selection of applicants.

  1. St. Marys Academy graduate. The graduates of St. Marys Academy have received the fundamentals of a liberal arts approach to education and are prepared to further enhance their education at a liberal arts college. The graduate does not need to have graduated immediately before applying but is eligible until the age of 25 years. In fact, former high school alumni who have been out of school for a few years and desire to return to higher education may be the best applicants. 
  2. A U.S. citizen or immigrant who is registered with the Selective Service between the ages of 18-25 years of age. This criterion is to invoke the sense of patriotism and love for country that the U.S. citizen or immigrant who has adopted this country should possess for their country.  
  3. Cumulative High School GPA= 3.3
  4. Cumulative ACT score in the 75th percentile.
  5. 500 word essay on “What is leadership”
  6. Demonstration of leadership in academic, sports, business and extra-curricular activities. 

Selection Process. 

An independent board of teachers and professors at St. Marys College with oversight by the Rector of St. Marys Academy and College will verify the information provided, assess the applicants packets, giving greatest weight on the strength of the essay and demonstrations of leadership and rank them accordingly. The applicant with the highest rank will be awarded the scholarship.