Monday, January 04, 2010

RIP, Mary Fitz

My first day back to work after the blur that was the holiday season, and it has to start off with some sad news from one of my New Jersey kin . . .

My Grandma G's cousin Mary Fitz (more properly Mary Elizabeth Irving FitzGerald) died in her sleep on New Year's Day. She was 86 years old.

Mary Fitz was born 11 September 1923, a daughter of Alex Irving, youngest son of my English emigrant ancestor "Honest Bob" Irving. (Yours truly is a great-grandson of Alex's sister Lil Irving Norton.)

My grandmother often told me stories about how she would babysit for Mary Fitz and her siblings after their mother's untimely death. Babysitting in those days apparently involved taking the kids to see the "picture shows."

Anyway, Mary Fitz grew up to attend Seton Hall University and worked as a public health nurse for many years in Jersey City.

I have several letters that she sent me over the years, each containing tidbits of family history.

She was a passionate promoter of literacy, and was named Literacy Tutor of the Year in 1997 by the Literacy Volunteers of America.

Mary Fitz didn't actually become Mary Fitz until late in life, when she married a Canadian fellow named John T. FitzGerald. He preceded her in death many years ago. They had no children. She was also preceded in death by her brother George Irving. Her sister Anna Mae Ness survives, as do numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Visitation will be Thursday at the McLaughlin Funeral Home on Pavonia Avenue, Jersey City, on Thursday. Funeral Mass will be offered at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church on Friday at 10am, with interment to follow at Holy Cross Cemetery.

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