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David Fitzsimmons, cartoonist for the Arizona Daily Star

David with his granddaughter Emma and Edie Auslander.

David Fitzsimmons, the Arizona Daily Star’s cartoonist,  has raised millions for Tucson’s charities for a quarter century by being the provocative, funny and entertaining master of ceremonies at thousands of charity events. He is Mr. Chicken Dinner with a black marker pen and a thick paper pad three by four feet perched on an easel. (Click here for a selection of FitzFotos.)

Unless he is booked, he will not say no. Fitz will stand and amuse. Have pad, will travel. He jokes, you guffaw.

For free. Any time as long as the cause is noble, the audience tomato-free and there are a few big names in attendance that he can besmirch, belittle, beguile and charm.

He has been the cartoonist at the Arizona Daily Star since 1986, one of my better hires.

He was born in Merced, Calif. A few months later his parents came to Tucson. He went to Rincon High School and then to the University of Arizona, where he majored in several subjects, but mostly he was cartoonist for the Wildcat. He graduated and found a job as a newspaper artist for the Oklahoman of Oklahoma City.

He moved to the Virginian-Pilot of Virginia Beach and Norfolk.

After his stint with that paper, Fitz landed his first full-time cartoonist job with the Daily Press of Newport News, Va. His boss at that paper was the late Tony Snow who went on to become press spokesman for George W. Bush. He died of colon cancer in 2008 at the age of 53.

I interviewed Fitz and his daughter sometime in 1985 in the coffee shop of the Sheraton Hotel in Reston, Virginia. Sarah, who was not yet 2 years old, was up and down steps and all over the carpet. He said he was anxious to get back to Tucson, but as an editorial cartoonist. Since then, Fitz has been a part of what critics still call the “Red Star,” his cartoons poking fun at, praising, satirizing and annoying. That is the chief reason, I believe, he has never been selected as Tucson’s man of the year. When I was at the Star, we waged a serious campaign to make it so. Alas, we were not successful.

But Fitz nonetheless charges onward, pen in hand, masterfully conducting the ceremony and raising the money — battling breast cancer (he is a cancer survivor), promoting books or paying tribute to long-time heroes such as Big Jim Griffith. He has given enormously to the community and has never been properly recognized for it.