Thomas B. Fitzgerald
I was saddened when I turned to the obituaries on Thanksgiving Day.
One of my favorite teachers from 30 years ago, at North High School, had passed away from complications of leukemia.
There were two ways to take "Fitz", as he was called.
You either feared him or you loved him. I was never in the first camp, and over the course of three years became ensconced in the second.
"Fitz" was in the Social Sciences department, the kind of classes I thrived on.
My sophomore year I had a Social Science class across the hall from "Fitz's" classroom. "Fitz" would often wonder in and interrupt my learning.
I thought him rude and asked who he was. The older kids talked about how he liked to rap his ruler on students desks who weren't paying attention. I thought it sounded awfully Catholic school to me, but I was never intimidated.
It was in my junior year that I had a class that "Fitz" taught, so I got to watch him in action for a whole class period.
He was animated, to say the least. This was 1975 and some kids weren't into learning, so he worked the ruler and would tease kids too.
I remember he used the word "WOP" when discussing Italians, I took offense to that.
I raised my hand and he called on me.
I asked if he knew why God invented whiskey?
He was stumped.
To keep the Irish from ruling the world, I exclaimed as the sounds of laughter enveloped me.
"Fitz" look stunned and I told him that I didn't appreciate the cracks against Italians.
He couldn't figure it out from my last name, so I told him how my Grandfather had come here from Italy.
I think we had achieved a mutual respect for each other.
I remember days later doing research in the school library on the name Fitzgerald. I found that some Fitzgerald's had migrated to Italy and had changed their name to Garibaldi.
That was too good to keep to myself and I had to share it with "Fitz" and it was then that I began to lovingly call him "FitzDago".
"Fitz" was fun, but he took teaching seriously.
I remember him telling a kid that complained about boredom, "I'm not paid to entertain you. I'm paid to teach you."
Another favorite memory comes from a discussion about amnesty, for Viet Nam draft dodgers, he had with another teacher.
They agreed that amnesty should be announced and as the draft dodgers came across the Canadian border they should be shot.
"Fitz" added the kicker, "Shoot them so they'll fall back into Canada and they'll have to bury them!"
While "Fitz" was still teaching he appeared in a T.V. commercial trying to get people to support Congressman Greg Ganske's Senate candidacy against CommieTommie Harkin.
I'm sure he took flack from some flunky teachers and the teachers union for that.
Thanks "Fitz", you taught this Conservative a lot!
Thomas B. Fitgerald, 67, was buried today. Rest In Peace!