|with Grandson Kevin|
|with Wife Betty and grand daughter Alanna|
|holding grandson Shawn|
Traverse City Record Eagle
Thursday, July 18,2002 page 3B
Thomas L Fitzgerald
Died July 16, 2002
Traverse City- Thomas L. Fitzgerald, 83, of Traverse City, passed away Tuesday, July 16, 2002, following a long illness.
Tom was born Spet 1, 1918, in Wexford County to the late Ernest and Martha (Furrow) Fitzgerald. He served in the US Army during World War II and was stationed in the Pacific Theater. On Jan 20, 1945, he wed Elizabeth Wood at St Joseph Catholic Church in Mapleton.
Emoplyed for 27 years with the city of Traverse Cityas a heavy equipment operator, Tom retired in 1982. He wsa a lifetime member of the VFM Cherryland Post 2780, enjoyed working in his gardens and was an avid hunter and fisherman.
Tom is survived by his wife of 57 years, Betty of Traverse City; thier six children, Mary Ann Urick of Interlochen, John (Carol) Fitzgerald of Traverse City, Charles (Ludmila) Fitzgerald of Traverse City, James (Teresa) Fitzgerald of Lake City, Margaret (Mark) Abbenante of Freankenmuth, and William (Robin) Fitzgerald of Grawn; nine grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter; his brother Jack (Connie) Fitzgerald of Lansing; is sister, Jo Blaylock of Traverse City; two stepbrothers, Harvery and Victor Helferich; and many nieces and nephews.
Along with his parents, Tom was preceded in death by his son-in-law Doug Urick; his sisters, Amber Sanderson, Dorothy Worm and Grace Helferich; and a great-grandson, Douglas March.
Visitation will be held today from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Traverse City Chapple of Covell Funeral Homes.
Funeral services will be conducted at 11 a.m. Friday, July 19, at the funeral home. with the Rev. James Hayden offciating. Interment, with military honor under the auspices of VFW Cherryland Post 2780 will be at 2:30p.m. Friday in Oakwood Diocesan Catholic Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be directed to Immaculate Conception Restoration Project.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the Traverse City Chapple of Covell Funeral Homes.
Traverse City Record Eagle
Wednesday, February 4, 1976
Second Section, Front page
Tom Fitzgerald He Plows the Roads
By: Ken Christensen
Traverse City- Who built the pyramids, asked Studs Terkel in his book "Wor king." You may not wonder about pyramids as your drive to work in the mor ning, grumbling about the hour, winter, and bad driving conditions, but n ow and then you might ask. "Who plows the roads?" The answer is the sa me for both the pyramids and the roads- the workers, of course.
Somebody has to get up before anyone else and drive those snow-clogged ro ads in semi-darkness so that you can get to work and the children c an go to school. For 22 years that someone, a truly first-class worker, h as been Tom Fitzgerald.
The day I talked to Tom he had started work at 4 a.m. and would wo rk up to 12 or 13 hours before the day was over. Not unusual at all f or a man who is on call 24 hours a day throughout the winter and who has b een known to work 38 hours at a stretch. At 57, Tom is the first to adm it that he doesn't so that anymore. This winter has been harsher than t he previous two and Tom has worked as much as 34 hours overtime in a week.
"Sure, there are nights when you can't see back of your headlights a nd it would be nice to be home in bed," Tom said, "but it's got to be a ch allenge or you've got no business doing it."
In 22 years on the job Tom Fitzgerald was unable to make it in to work on ly twice, once in 1959 and again in 1969. Those two days, he points ou t, were when they closed the Grandview Parkway.
"Not that we couldn't have plowed it, but with the snow blowing off the b anks from that fierce northwest wind, you couldn't see a foot in fro nt of you. It just wasn't safe to drive."
Tom's face broke into a grin when his friends kidded him saying they wou ld be ready to pick him up in 1979, the next time he couldn't make it in a ccording to his 10-year cycle.
If Tom isn't called in early, he starts work at eight and plows his regul ar route. This takes him down Eighth Street, up Cass, across Fourteenth S treet, down Division, Grandview Parkway, Munson, 72- the school bus route s, Tom explained. Tom was adjusting the plow on his truck before he we nt back out as we talked.
"I know how I like it," Tom said, " I want to know if it's tight enough a nd I want to adjust the shoes so the plow is riding the right height off t he ground. In the city, you have to have enough clearance to go over t he railroad tracks."
Helping Tom was his friend and acting foreman, Nelson Milks. (When I we nt into the office to ask to interview a veteran, Nelson humbly direct ed me to Tom. Nelson had been there "only" 20 years.) Nelson confided, " Tom's a real good man. He goes out there and does his job. If you want ed to reach him, you wouldn't have to call on the radio. You know right w here he is on his route, like clockwork."
Tom said they'd like to help more motorists out of ditches, "but if we st opped and helped everybody, we'd never get any roads clear. Here's an exa mple. The other morning I stopped and helped a young man, his wife and th eir baby. I gave them a lift into town to a gas station. I mean you've g ot to stop and help a mother and young baby like that, but you just can 't help everyone." Tom pointed out that once piece of equipment he's nev er without, his tow chain.
In answer to the question if preferred winter or simmer, he said, "wel l, I wouldn't want winter any longer."
In three years Tom could retire but he hasn't made that decision yet. It 's steady work, Tom says; he's only missed a day-and-a-half's pay in 22 ye ars. He lives at 315 Vine and has four boys and two girls. So far they h aven't shown any inclination to follow in his footsteps.
Tom certainly has no regrets. "Somebody has got to do it. The j ob is a responsibility and you have to be dedicated."
In the Soviet Union they don't pay overtime. For outstanding work or pro duction the worker receives a "Stakhanoviet" medal which translates as "Pe ople's Champion." Perhaps we need a comparable award for Tom Fitzgera ld is truly a "People's Champion."