A brief story of Lt. Fitzsimons legacy. 

Lt. Fitzsimons, a graduate of St. Mary’s College in St. Marys, KS, was the first American officer to die in France during World War I. Born William T. Fitzsimons in Burlington, Kansas in 1889, he attended St. Mary’s College from 1906-1908.  He transferred to St. Mary’s School of Medicine at the University of Kansas where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1910 and then his medical degree in 1912.  After an internship at St. Mary’s Hospital in Kansas City, Dr. Fitzsimons moved to New York to study surgery at Roosevelt Hospital. 

As European powers fomented the beginnings of World War I in 1914, Dr. Fitzsimons volunteered his services for a year as a surgeon in England and Belgium, before the United States entered the war. Returning to Kansas City in 1915, 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, Dr. Fitzsimons was called to active duty in a hospital on the coast of France.  On September 7, 1917, German war planes bombed the military hospital, killing Lt. Fitzsimons. He was the first American officer to die in the war.

As news spread of his death, spontaneous testimonies and eulogies were offered that provided testimony to his dedication and selfless service to the medical profession and his fellow man.  Several memorials were soon created in his honor.  In 1920, the Army renamed its hospital in Aurora, Colorado to the Fitzsimons Army Hospital.  Kansas City erected a memorial fountain in 1922.  The following year, his first alma mater dedicated a free-standing memorial arch during its Diamond Jubilee Celebration.   The arch was constructed in honor of Lt. Fitzsimons and the eighteen other St. Mary’s alumni killed in WWI.

Marking the former gateway to St. Mary’s College, this memorial arch is an iconic reminder of St. Mary’s College mission to form students of character.  The Lt. Fitzsimons Scholarship has been established to financially help the College continue that mission, and to honor the name of this good man. 

For more of the story see:

Intent of Scholarship.

Lt. Fitzsimons was a product of the liberal arts program at St. Mary’s College.  This program provided a classical Jesuit approach to education, emphasizing a core curriculum of History, Literature, Philosophy and Theology. Through hundreds of years of change and development, this approach has been critical in developing citizens with the ability to reason, to discern and to apply the temporal and eternal knowledge of the reality around them to problem solve, create solutions, and serve humanity for the love of God.  The Jesuit motto Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, for the Greater Glory of God, still rings true in the halls of St. Mary’s. 

We feel this fundamental academic formation was critical in the development of Lt. Fitzsimons exceptional character, Though the Jesuits have long been gone, St. Mary’s College remains true to her history, offering a structured, traditional, social and academic environment in which students pursue truth within a challenging, balanced liberal arts curriculum.  This scholarship looks to support promising students who want that same formation that gave rise to great souls like Lt. William Fitzsimons.


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

  1. be a St. Mary’s Academy graduate. The graduates of St. Mary’s 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. be 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. have a cumulative High School GPA= 3.3
  4. have a cumulative ACT score in the 75th percentile (or equivalent).
  5. Submit a 500 word essay on “What is leadership?”.
  6. demonstrate examples of leadership in academic, sports, business and other extra-curricular activities. 

Selection Process. 

An independent board of  professors at St. Mary’s College with oversight by the Rector of St. Mary’s Academy and College will verify and assess scholarship application packets.  Greatest weight will be placed on the strength of the essay and demonstrations of leadership. Applications will be ranked accordingly, and the applicant with the highest rank will be awarded the scholarship.