March 3, 1898
A Tribute to the Memory of
and a high Compliment to our Public Schools
FLETCHER, O., January 25, 1898 - Three weeks ago, Wm. Fell, for a number of years section foreman on the Pan Handle Railroad at Fletcher, took a severe pain in his left leg between the knee and ankle. In a short time it was discovered that vitiated blood had ruptured a vein. Gangrene set in. The leg turned black from the knee down. After consultation, the surgeons in charge, Doctors Beebe of Sidney, Funderburg of Piqua, and Kiser of Fletcher, decided that if Fell had a chance at all it was in amputation; but even in that they considered the chances few. However, without urging, Fell concluded to have the operation performed. After the most careful preparation for the work, the surgeons removed the affected leg in good shape getting an excellent stump, but suddenly surprised to find that Fell was unconscious, dying in 30 minutes. The funeral took place Sunday noon from the residence of Mrs. Maurice Donnelly, where he and his boys had made their home for years. The remains were interred in the Catholic cemetery at Piqua, after appropriate services. Father Hickey officiating, at St. Mary's Church.
This death was a great shock to the community, so sudden and mysterious did it occur. He was greatly beloved by all who knew him. About eighteen years ago he came to Fletcher with two little baby boys for whom, their mother being dead, he did the double part of father and mother. Without money and without friends, for he was among strangers, Fell began a struggle with the hardships of which no pen can describe no tongue can tell. To raise two motherless little boys and do it right is a task none can know save be. Under such trying circumstances no man ever fought the good fight more heroically than did Wm. Fell. A position as section foreman on the Pan Handle Railroad was secured, a small house was rented and the little family moved in. But in the strictest sense it was not home for mother was not there and in the absence of mother's kiss and kind caresses there is no home. But the father was there, true and noble, at least once a day, to do kind acts and speak kind words to comfort and console his babies. All day long and well into the night, in sunshine or in storm did the little boys watch and wait for father to return and prepare for them the little meal, perhaps the first warm one of the day, as often times he had to leave so early, the little ones were still in bed. But that did not last long. As soon as a little money was secured, he quit the effort to keep house and with his boys took board with Mrs. Maurice Donnelly, where in the absence of a mother no boy could fall into better hands. The boys grew and so did Fell's friends. Both father and sons were respected by everyone. Soon school age was attained by both the boys first Tim and then Jim. Now as I am writing this more for the living than the dead, to edify the one and honor the other, I appeal to thousands of boys and girls all over this land of ours, to watch this poor but noble Irishman and his two little motherless Irish boys, from the time Tim bent above his father's lifeless form, crying in his anguish "Goodbye, my kind father, all I am I owe to you." Now notice how well Wm. Fell looked after his children and watched the boys. James, the youngest, graduated from the Fletcher High School with first honors there, when from a severe cold he took pneumonia and died about three years ago. When he delivered his commencement speech here there was not a dry eye in the house. They were tears of joy shed in honor of the boy's success, and such a funeral as his never took place here, neither since nor before. The schools were dismissed and the whole town turned out to meet his lifeless body at the depot on its arrival from Ada.
Timothy J. Fell, the oldest son, graduated from the Fletcher High School with first honors. He went to Ada, taught school, studied law in Chicago, was admitted to practice and is today on of the brightest young lawyers at the Chicago bar, a member of the firm of Gilbert & Fell. To both his father and his brother he was a friend in need, no duty did he shirk. Every want was administered to with a love and kindness such as sons of his training and worth can only show. Nor does he fail to show his appreciation of the kindness shown his father, brother and himself, by good old mother Donnelly. The old lady has passed her three score and ten and while to others there are younger hearts and fairer faces, to Tim Fell there is no face so fair as that of Mother Donnelly, and when a walk is taken she in preference to others always gets his arm. It is no uncommon thing when Tim is home to see him and his old benefactress stroll out arm in arm. And yet in spite of all this I am told there are some so poor in this great state of ours, they can not get an education. I don't believe it. The fathers who provided for the public schools of Ohio did not labor nor live in vain. To their memory these schools are grander tribute than any shaft of marble towering to the skies. Our public schools are the shops in which from the raw material of rustic lad and orphan boy, our greatest and grandest men are made. No, it is not poverty that denies the children these advantages. It is the home influence they need. Let the curfew ring or remain silent forever, but give a father like Wm. Fell, and manhood will reach a higher standard and a higher plane of civilization will be attained. Pains and aches like restless people move about, so who can ever tell that this was not a pain that had its birth years ago when she, his hope and happiness, the mother of his boys, was taken from home? Who knows how long he endured and fought it? For a time it seemed to conquer, but in the end how was it then? He knew no pain. Of this we are assured, for he left us as if in a dreamless sleep. He is better now, for men like Fell never die. I knew him long and well. He was my friend and I was his. I know therefore the correctness of what I write. To his only and lonely son I would say to not be discouraged. Remember the lessons taught you, Tim, by your noble father. Follow his advice, live as he would have you live and to his memory you will be the fittest monument he could have. Now, William Fell, farewell. Thy well known form will no longer move about our streets. All our people even the little children for whom thou hadst, always, some pleasant greeting will miss thee here. But some time, some place, we know it will be well with thee and we shall meet again. Good-bye, Dear Will, fare well.
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