JAMES EDMUND FITZGERALD, 85, of Lapeer (formerly of Detroit and Port Huron), died Wednesday, January 11, 2012. Jim was born August 5, 1926 in Port Huron, son to Edmund & Gertrude (Gleason) Fitzgerald. Jim married Patricia Fick of Lapeer on April 21, 1955.
Jim graduated from St. Stephen School in Port Huron and was quickly drafted into the US Army to serve during WWII. Upon discharge from the Army, Jim began college and in 1951 graduated from the Michigan State University School of Journalism. That same year Jim started with The Lapeer County Press working as an ad salesman and reporter. Jimís career at The Lapeer County Press spanned the next 25 years, becoming the paperís editor in 1960. In 1976 Jim began his 20- year career as the “Back Page Columnist” with the Detroit Free Press. Jim retired in 1996.
During Jim’s career he earned numerous honors for newspaper editing and column writing. In 1953 and 1963 Jim was awarded the Michigan Press Association’s “Best Column” award. In 1980 he was awarded the Harriett Taubman Feminist of the Year Award (an honor he personally held in dear esteem). In 1981, 1982 & 1983 Jim earned the UPI’s 1st Place Column Award and in 2009 Jim was inducted into the MSU State News Alumni Hall of Fame.
Above all, Jim loved his wife and family. He is survived by his wife Patricia Fitzgerald of Lapeer, children: Karen Fitzgerald of Lapeer, Christie (Wes) Smith of Lapeer, and Edmund (Colleen) Fitzgerald of Grosse Pointe Woods, eight grandchildren: Michele (Phil) Guerra of Flint, Melissa Skwirsk of Lapeer, John (Jennifer) Wescott of Seattle, WA, Emily (Matt) Caswell of Lansing, Patricia Smith of Atlanta, GA, Adam Smith of Lapeer, Elaine Smith of Lapeer and Jimmy Fitzgerald of Grosse Pointe Woods, eight great grandchildren: Phillip (Rachel) Guerra, Ryan Guerra, Grace Guerra, Madelynn Guerra, Max Skwirsk, Lucas Skwirsk, Jackson Wescott and Jordan Wescott, one great-great grandson, London Guerra. Jim is also survived by his four sisters: Jean Fitzgerald of Troy, Mary Lou Dixon of Rochester Hills, Nancy Hartnett of Cincinnati, OH and Linda (Tony) Grauzer of San Antonio, TX.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents and 3 brothers-in-law: Bill Fitzgerald, Jack Dixon and Al “Gabby” Hartnett.
Per Jim’s wishes, cremation and a private family memorial have already taken place.
Memorial contributions may be made to the following: Lapeer County Historical Society, 518 W Nepessing St # 1, Lapeer, MI 48446; Focus: HOPE, 1355 Oakman Boulevard Detroit, Michigan 48238 or Lapeer Community Scholarship & Student Fund, Lapeer Community Schools ASC, 250 2nd St., Lapeer, MI 48446, attn: Sue Wilmers.
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