William Fitzgerald, a veteran of World War II and longtime resident of Milton, passed away surrounded by family. Bill, as he was known to many in the area, was born May 23 1927 to Patrick and Catherine and grew up in Jamaica Plain, MA with his brothers Joseph and John. Bill often recounted his upbringing in Jamaica Plain in glowing terms. He attended Commerce High School before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1944. Bill was honorably discharged in 1946 and returned to Boston where he spent a “Prep” year at Jamaica Plain High School before enrolling at Northeastern University. He earned a degree in Business Administration in 1952 and embarked on a business career for the next sixteen years. During that time he was employed as an underwriter, a manufacturer’s representative, and financial reporter.
Bill, also known as “Harry” by his friends spent much of an extended bachelorhood spending time with friends while renting houses on the Cape, organizing ski trips, and spending fall and spring nights in Eastover. As a veteran, Bill was active in and is a past commander at the American Legion Post 76 in Jamaica Plain. In addition, Bill also filled his “bachelor” years by maintaining close ties to his family by serving as a cherished uncle to Tom, Joe, Karen, Lynne, Diane, Brian, Bobby, and Donna.
He met Barbara Smith in 1964, and they were married at St. Gregory’s Church in Dorchester in 1966. After marrying Barbara, he changed careers and found his calling as an educator. He pursued a Master’s Degree at Boston State College and took a job teaching at Nipmuc Regional High School. After two years, he was hired at Dorchester High School where he served as a typing teacher, business teacher, and Flexible Campus Coordinator. He took great pride in educating city kids like himself, and felt it was his calling to be of service to others. Bill concluded his career at East Boston High School where he spent two years as a special education teacher.
Bill was a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather. He was married to Barbara for fifty five years, and “Quiet Bill” as she called him, was a true friend and kind, loving partner to his bride. He doted on his family and was a wonderful role model to his son John and daughter Marybeth. Despite being a reserved gentleman he was happiest when interacting with family and friends. Later in life he became the beloved “Papa” to Ryan and Sean, and he was enthralled by their smiles, energy, and joy.
Bill was an incredibly introspective man. A voracious reader, he was often most comfortable attending classes, reading books, and completing the daily crossword. Bill loved words, revered the English language, and took pleasure in listening to and learning from others. His intellectual curiosity and belief in civic duty was evidenced by his participation in the Milton Town Meeting, Eire Society of Boston, Quincy Neighborhood Club, and being a member of the Boston Teacher Retirees. He practiced his faith at St Elizabeth’s Catholic Church where he served on the parish council and as a Eucharistic Minister. A renaissance man he taught himself carpentry, and took pleasure in creating things. His intelligence manifested itself with multiple Post Graduate Degrees, the last coming even after he retired when he collected a Masters in Special education at the age of sixty seven at UMASS Boston.
Bill will be remembered by many in Milton, Jamaica Plain, Dorchester, and Pocasset as a caring and thoughtful individual. He collected many friends throughout his life and remained loyal to each and every one of them. His colleagues at Dorchester High School, childhood friends – especially Bill Horgan and Joe Ratta, his friends from Milton, and friends he acquired later in life from Pocasset – the Veys and the Gordons - meant the world to him. His son John recounted Bill saying “I have lived an incredible life, and met many amazing people. I am so lucky.”
In closing the best testament to Bill was uttered by a classmate of his son John. While attending a Milton High football game with his son and grandsons, he walked ahead of his family and one of John’s classmates pointed at Bill and said, “that man is the sweetest man who has ever lived”. She perfectly summed up Bill as a person, and no truer words could have been spoken!
Bill was preceded in death by his parents Patrick and Catherine as well as his brother John. He's survived by his wife Barbara, son John and his wife Erica of Braintree, daughter Marybeth of West Roxbury, brother Joseph of Roslindale, grandsons Sean and Ryan and many nieces, nephews, and friends. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to greet the family during the visiting hours on Tuesday July 13th from 4 to 8 pm in the Alfred Thomas Funeral Home, at 326 Granite Avenue, Milton. A funeral service will be celebrated on Wednesday, July 14th at 10:00 am at St Elizabeth’s Church in Milton. Burial in Milton Cemetery, to follow. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions can be made to the University of Massachusetts Boston (School of Education) https://www.umb.edu/, the Milton Council on Aging https://www.townofmilton.org/council-aging , or St Elizabeth’s Church in Milton.
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