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Memories & Candles

“Marilyn and children, Thinking of you during this difficult time. Also sending prayers from my parents, William and Johanna Koebler. Gabrielle...Read More »
1 of 45 | Posted by: Gabrielle Kochell - Lake Geneva, WI

“Dear Fitzgerald Family: Rarely have I read an obituary that truly captures the essence of a man and a life in full. I didn't know "Fitz" but the...Read More »
2 of 45 | Posted by: COL William T. Meddings - WI

“To the Fitzgerald Family: Jim was an exemplar of energy, spirit, leadership and business venture. I admired him for his "soft dynamism",...Read More »
3 of 45 | Posted by: Gary V. Zimerman FAIA - WI

“Your dad was a great man and will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with your family. ”
4 of 45 | Posted by: Jim Cunningham - Winter Park, FL

“Carolyn - my heartfelt condolences go out to you and your family on the loss of your dad. I remember meeting him back in the mid 70's when I came...Read More »
5 of 45 | Posted by: Debbie (Buol) Spencer - IL

“I was so fortunate and thankful to benefit from Mr. Fitzgerald's kindness. As a Craig HS basketball player and former small college player at Loras ...Read More »
6 of 45 | Posted by: john curtis - Carefree, AZ

“Thank you Jim for your visits. Who will count the peas now? Who will deliver the sweet corn to the Bush's golf outings? Jim has been a true motivator...Read More »
7 of 45 | Posted by: Bryan Meyer - Milton, WI

“I met Mr. "Fitz" back in the 1970's and 1980's while working as a bartender at the Milwaukee Arena. During those years I often worked in the private...Read More »
8 of 45 | Posted by: bruce bultman - milwaukee, WI

“Ellen (and family) - Although I never met your dad, it sure sounds like he was a wonderful guy with a great sense of humor. I can see where you got...Read More »
9 of 45 | Posted by: Diane Pinnow - Jefferson, WI

“I didn't know Jim, but did attend elementary school w/Ellen. Sorry for your loss-he did great many things in Janesville & touched many lives. ”
10 of 45 | Posted by: Jeff Malin - DePere, WI

“Please except our deepest sympathies to your family. He lived a blessed life full of love and happiness. He surely will be missed and remembered...Read More »
11 of 45 | Posted by: The Loyd Family - TX

“GOD BLESS FITZ!! A CLEAR THINKER WITH A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR. UP THE REBELS!! ”
12 of 45 | Posted by: paddy oflaherty - tampa, FL

“James, I will be donating to the Romney campaign in your name. RIP. JP ”
13 of 45 | Posted by: JP - San Diego, CA

“Not only shall I contribute to Mr. Romney's campaign, but I shall offer one of my masses for the repose of Mr. Fitzgerald. May he rest in peace and...Read More »
14 of 45 | Posted by: Trey - TX

“This is a true Patriot because even in death he sent a message that rings across America and brings inspiration to a nation that believes in the...Read More »
15 of 45 | Posted by: Keith Brock - Palm Sprigns, CA

“Condolences to your family. I will gladly make a donation to Romney and anti-Obama super-PACs. ”
16 of 45 | Posted by: Brian K - Fremont, CA

“My condolences goes out to the family. How proud you must be that Mr Fitzgerald's last wishes for us that are left behind in this world is that we...Read More »
17 of 45 | Posted by: Mary Sharp - Edwards, MO

“To the Family of Mr. Fitzgerald The stories you will tell your progeny about this great American. My motto has been ABO since the golfer in chief...Read More »
18 of 45 | Posted by: victoria - san diego, CA

“I came across the article written about Mr.Fitzgeralds HeadStone. He must have been an amazing man with strong convictions. God Bless the...Read More »
19 of 45 | Posted by: Margarita Oxford - Armuchee, GA

“Fitz was truly special. I knew that from the first time I met him, and I was honored by our wonderful relationship throughout my long career as...Read More »
20 of 45 | Posted by: Dave Wedeward, retired Gazette sports editor - WI

“Marilyn, Connie and I are so sorry to just find out the Jimmy has died..we really enjoyed the lunches we had together and I always loved hearing "TOP...Read More »
21 of 45 | Posted by: Robert Neill - Rancho Mirage, CA

“America could use more men such as Mr.Fitzgerald. A true loss for Wisconsin and the U.S. Respectfully, Daiel R.Schabowski. ”
22 of 45 | Posted by: Dan Schabowski - Deerfield Beach, FL

“We send our very special thoughts & prayers to Marilyn & all the family.In all our years in the NBA, Jim was the finest man we ever knew. The...Read More »
23 of 45 | Posted by: Claire & Hubie Brown - Atlanta, GA

“Our thoughts and prayers are with your family. I have great memories of Mr. Fitz while growing up in Janesville. He was great to all of us always. ”
24 of 45 | Posted by: Tim Ryan - Denver, CO

“A great man and touched my life,he will be missed,great friends of my uncle ed mcgavock and parents. bvr ”
25 of 45 | Posted by: bob van rens - madison, WI

“Our thoughts, prayers and good memories are with you all. ”
26 of 45 | Posted by: Dave, Barb, Rebecca Bortner - WI

“June 06, 2012 In 1985 James Fitzgerald Sr., was presented with the "ONLY JESUS" - "OJ" award from Archbishop Rembert Weakland and the Milwaukee...Read More »
27 of 45 | Posted by: Alvin A. L. Dompke - West Allis, WI

“I wish to extend my condolences to the Fitzgerald family. During my childhood, I was a friend and neighbor. I would play with Carolyn and Ellen. The...Read More »
28 of 45 | Posted by: Carol McKillips Sherman - WI

“I personally did not know James, but clearly he was a great man. I would be happy to send a donation to Mitt Romney in his memory. Thank you for...Read More »
29 of 45 | Posted by: Mary Kay Hall - WI

“We remember Jim as a perfect human being, and IRISH TOO! We will think of him often, and with nothing but fond memories. Marilyn, our hearts are...Read More »
30 of 45 | Posted by: Charlie and Jule Everhart - WI

“May God be with Fitz family and friends. And I will make another contribution to the Romney campaign. ”
31 of 45 | Posted by: Gary P. - Glendale, AZ

“My heartfelt condolences to Marilyn and the entire Fitzgerald family - and Marion too! I will miss his phone calls that always started with "Top of...Read More »
32 of 45 | Posted by: Evelyn Kelsey - Indian Wells, CA

“Fitz, I never knew ya, but you was and still are the man! ”
33 of 45 | Posted by: Bob Kamphoff - Eden Prairie, MN

“The entire Fitzgerald family will be in our prayers and thoughts this week. "Gramps" was patient, kind, and encouraging to his step-grandsons Cody,...Read More »
34 of 45 | Posted by: Steve Santilli - WV

“Wow! Whatta guy! Will never forget the kind hospitality you showed our family when we were in Indian Wells. You invited us for lunch at your Country...Read More »
35 of 45 | Posted by: LEFTY CLARK - SUN CITY, AZ

“Our prayers and thoughts are with the entire Fitzgerald family, We pray that the love of God enfolds the family during these difficult times and...Read More »
36 of 45 | Posted by: Steve & Margaret Geller - WI

“My thoughts and prayers are with the entire family; particularly Michael H (&Claudia); brings back memories of listening to "Irish" football games...Read More »
37 of 45 | Posted by: Ackerman, Bob - woodbridge, VA

“Dear Fitz, For over 30 years you have been such a good friend and mentor to me personally. I will forever remember our monthly breakfasts at the...Read More »
38 of 45 | Posted by: Joe and Lori Chrnelich - WI

“Fitzgerald Family, You have our family's deepest sympathy at the loss of Jim. We were all touched by him in some way. He was big part of our...Read More »
39 of 45 | Posted by: Tom Van Rens - Brookfield, WI

“Brian and family, Deeply saddened to hear the passing of your wonderful, caring Dad. I have fond memories of listening to your Dad around the...Read More »
40 of 45 | Posted by: Craig Bohlman - Atlanta, GA

“To the James Fitzgerald family, Our sympathies to your entire family on the loss of a great man. He contributed so much to Janesville and the entire...Read More »
41 of 45 | Posted by: Kathy Corrado McCarthy - IL

“To the James Fitzgerald family, Our sympathies to your entire family on the loss of a great man. He contributed so much to Janesville and the entire...Read More »
42 of 45 | Posted by: Kathy Corrado McCarthy - IL

“Fitz would periodically call to check in on how we were doing with Rock County 5.0. I will never forget the last conversation we had. "So how are...Read More »
43 of 45 | Posted by: Mary Willmer - Janesville, WI

“This man and the entire family are such a tradition in this city - he will greatly be missed. I have so many stories about him, his brother Mike and...Read More »
44 of 45 | Posted by: Maureen Steed - janesville, WI

“To my dear friends the Fitzgerald family, thank you for sharing Mr Fitz with the rest of us. We can all find peace in his example and joy in our...Read More »
45 of 45 | Posted by: Robert Garbutt (Garbo) - WI


James Francis Fitzgerald, Sr. ("Fitz"), 86, was born, lived and died in Janesville, Wisconsin. "People will forget what you said, but people will never forget how you made them feel." This belief was exemplified in virtually everything Fitz did, from raising a family to becoming a respected businessman who was best known for having been an owner of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Golden State Warriors. Fitz was the firstborn of Chloris ("Ty") Beiter Fitzgerald and Michael H. Fitzgerald, Jr. Upon graduation from Janesville High School in 1944, he joined the Navy and was placed in the Officer's Training Program at Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. He was transferred to the University of Notre Dame, where he fully embraced the Fighting Irish traditions and became a devoted, lifelong fan. Fitz graduated from Notre Dame in 1947 with a degree (cum laude) in Business and a degree in Naval Science. After graduation, he returned to Janesville to start a service station and oil jobbing business. In 1950, he married Marilyn Cullen, who was the love of his life for 62 years. They were blessed with six children. He was at home almost every night and regularly ate dinner with Marilyn and their children and talked with them about their lives. His desire to gather the clan over a meal continued even as the family grew to 40 members. Fitz was recalled into the Navy for 20 months and served during the Korean Conflict before he moved back to Janesville to focus on business again. In 1956, he was awarded the Janesville Man of the Year Award. Later, with his father-in-law Mark Cullen and brother-in-law J.P. Cullen, he opened the first two shopping centers in Janesville – Creston Park and Sunnyside. Fitz joined forces with the Cullens and fellow entrepreneurs Ryan, Kennedy and McGuire to form a partnership that became known as the Janesville Irish Mafia. Together they built the first Holiday Inn in Janesville and became pioneers in the cable television business. "It took until my generation before the Irish were fully accepted into the community," he said. "Yet we are highly motivated people." His varied business involvement, often conducted on the golf course, included not only professional basketball teams, but also banks and the golf business (SoftSpikes and Laser Link Golf). Retirement never enticed Fitz, who loved being in the midst of excitement and opportunity. Fitz had a remarkable ability to connect with people, understand their points of view and win them over. People universally admired him and enjoyed his company. Former NBA player and team executive Chris Mullin recently described Fitz as the greatest owner in basketball. When NBA Commissioner David Stern heard what Mullin said, he responded by saying, "I'm not allowed to give that designation because I've had many, many, many (owners), but there were none better." Don Nelson ("Nellie"), former NBA coach, calls Fitz his mentor in business and life. "As far as I'm concerned, he's the best thing that ever happened to me," said Nellie. Nellie never signed a contract to coach the Bucks or the Warriors. A simple handshake with Fitz was all he needed. Fitz was thrilled to learn that Nellie will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame later this year. As Fitz's business acumen thrust him into the national spotlight, his roots stayed firmly planted in Janesville, where he lived in the same home for 52 years. A notorious tie hater who thought they were an evil invention from the French, Fitz partnered his casual approach with casual dress. "He was from Janesville and he was very comfortable being in the room as the guy from Janesville," said his son, Jim Jr. For more than five decades, Fitz was a member at St. John Vianney Parish. He was a man of faith and integrity. He was an usher who brought new meaning to passing the plate. "One of his favorite things to do was, if one of his friends didn't put something in the collection basket, he'd just hold it in front of him and then give it a little shake and embarrass the guy. And that would be followed by a huge smile," Jim Jr. said. Fitz's smile was always present everywhere he went. Nellie knew why. "He'd always said how lucky we were," Nellie recalled. "It was `Nels, we're the two luckiest guys in the world.' He said that every time that we talked. And, boy, was he right." Fitz was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend who will be deeply missed but happily remembered. He is survived by Marilyn, his wife of 62 years; 6 children: Michael Fitzgerald of Scottsdale; Marcia (Rob) O'Loughlin of Madison; Brian Fitzgerald of Janesville; James (Laurra) Fitzgerald Jr. of Monument, CO; Carolyn (James) Foss of Janesville; and Ellen Fitzgerald of Jefferson; 15 grandchildren: Melissa (Richard) White of Seattle; Sarah (Tim) McClure of Oregon, WI; Nick (Kate) Fitzgerald of Janesville; Jim (Jess) Fitzgerald of Austin, TX; Shannon (Mike) Palmer of Janesville; Ryan Fitzgerald of Denver; Juliya Fitzgerald of Madison; Parker Fitzgerald of Portland; James Fitzgerald III of Portland; Jaimie Ty Fitzgerald of Portland; Olivia Fitzgerald of Madison; Conner Fitzgerald of Fort Benning, GA; Cody Foss of Janesville; Justin Foss of Janesville; and Alex Foss of Janesville; and 9 great-grandchildren: Natalie, Alexandra, Nicole Frances, Annabelle, Katherine, Vassili, Sean, Morgan, and Henry (with a 10th on the way). He is also survived by a brother, Michael H. (Claudia) Fitzgerald, III of Janesville, and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Carolyn Fitzgerald Klug. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 7, 2012, at ST. JOHN VIANNEY CATHOLIC CHURCH in Janesville, WI with Rev. William Nolan, Msgr. Donn Heiar and Msgr. Delbert Schmelzer officiating. Friends may call on Wednesday from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at SCHNEIDER APFEL SCHNEIDER & SCHNEIDER FUNERAL HOME, Janesville. Interment will be in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Memorials may be made to St. John Vianney

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