William Fitzgerald, a veteran of World War II and a longtime resident of Milton, passed away surrounded by family.
Bill, as he was known to many in the area, was born on 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 16 years. During that time, he was employed as an underwriter, a manufacturer’s representative, and a financial reporter.
Bill, also known as “Harry” to 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 a past commander of the American Legion Post 76 in Jamaica Plain. In addition, Bill 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, Bill 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. Bill 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 55 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 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 puzzle. 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, the Eire Society of Boston, Quincy Neighborhood Club, and being a member of the Boston Teacher Retirees.
Bill 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 master’s degree in special education at the age of 67 at the University of Massachusetts at 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 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.”
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 is survived by his wife Barbara, his son John and his wife Erica of Braintree, his daughter Marybeth of West Roxbury, his brother Joseph of Roslindale, his grandsons Sean and Ryan, and many nieces, nephews, and friends.
A funeral service was celebrated at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Milton. Burial was in Milton Cemetery.
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.