Mr. Fitzgerald, aka Tommy Fitz.

Mr. Fitzgerald, aka Tommy Fitz.

Tommy Fitz, truly a good man

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By Tim Hadac

Editor

Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound

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The obituary said Thomas M. Fitzgerald.

But to me, it was almost like it was referring to someone else, if only because I—like so many others in Clearing and Garfield Ridge–knew him as Tommy Fitz.

He died suddenly, unexpectedly, on Nov. 15 at age 65.

I had seen him just a week earlier, at a United Business Association of Midway lunch meeting at the Red Barrel. We sat at the same table, which was a pleasure because Tommy Fitz was always a pleasure to speak with. Nothing earth shattering, just me asking about the latest goings-on at the Archer & Central Coin Laundry, where Tommy was the longtime manager.

CRRNH TommyFitzTimColumn 112923

Mr. Fitzgerald, aka Tommy Fitz.

It was just small talk before the meeting started, not much more than him describing taking down the Halloween decorations and getting ready to set up the Christmas ones.

And then he was gone. Just like that, as is so often the case in life. Instead of Christmas decorations, purple bunting went up at the coin laundry to mourn his passing.

Brief but heartfelt tributes started popping up on the internet—from family, friends, business colleagues, coin laundry customers, current neighbors living near his home in West Lawn, even neighbors from 60 years ago, when the Fitzgeralds lived in St. Theodore Parish, near 63rd and Marshfield.

“A very nice and generous person.”

“Always so helpful, attentive and cheerful…always considerate and caring about others. He always went above and beyond.”

“One of the biggest hearts I ever known…gave me a second chance at life.”

“Showed us true, unconditional love.”

“A great friend that was always willing to help. “

And on and on. Praise well deserved.

Tommy once helped my family in our hour of need, back in late 2018 when I almost died from the flu/pneumonia and my wife and younger daughter were extremely ill, as well. He stepped up and stepped forward to help us out—a small thing to him, doubtless—but something we’ll never forget.

Even if you didn’t know him personally, you have felt the positive influence of Tommy Fitz. As a longtime, active member of the Midway Chamber of Commerce, Tommy was a steady, consistent volunteer. He helped beautify the triangle at 55th, Archer and Narragansett. He also helped staff any number of Midway Chamber of Commerce events that make the community a better place.

Tommy Fitz was the beloved husband of Maureen (nee Robinson); loving father of Sean, Caitlin, Brigid and Cameron (Kim); dear grandfather to Riley, Eliza, Logan, Blake, Baylin, Brooke and Finnley; nd fond brother of Pete (Kris), Danny (Susie), Margaret, Annie, Josie, James(Lori), Paul and Cathy(Eric).

To honor him, all of us are welcome to make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association in memory of the late Annie T. Fitzgerald. Also, and this is my suggestion, sometime in the next 90 days volunteer to do one thing you otherwise might not have done in the neighborhood. And do it to honor Tommy Fitz.

Mark your calendar

  • Speaking of volunteering, the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch is looking for a few folks to help at Wentworth Park, 57th and Narragansett, on Saturday, Dec. 2. Please try to arrive by 9 a.m. You’ll be helping set up things for the neighborhood’s annual Christmas tree lighting celebration, open to the public from 5 to 8 p.m. that day. If you plan to help, reach out ahead of time to GRNW President Al Cacciottolo via the GRNW Facebook page.
  • Children up to age 10 are invited to attend the Midway Chamber of Commerce’s Snack With Santa event, set for Saturday, Dec. 2 at Mayfield Banquets, 6072 S. Archer. The fun is set for 10:30 a.m. to noon. Children must be accompanied by a parent or other adult. Admission is by ticket only, according to MCC officials. No tickets will be available at the door. Tickets may be obtained at no charge from a number of MCC members. Look for the Snack With Santa poster in their front window. New this year: children with special needs will be admitted early (at 9:45 a.m.) to have some “quiet time” with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
  • Santa Claus and his GRNW friends will be visiting the community on a vintage fire truck just over a week from now. The Man in Red is scheduled to ride up and down most neighborhood streets (west of Central Avenue) from 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9; and then from about 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10 through Clearing (also west of Central).

But watch and listen carefully or you may miss when the Jolly Old Elf rolls down your street. To be sure, follow the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch on Facebook and click on the Santa Tracker to monitor his route.

  • There will be no GRNW/CAPS Beat 811 meeting in December. The group’s next public meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16 at Ward Hall, 5157 S. McVicker.
  • There will be no CAPS Beat 812 meeting in December. My thanks to longtime beat facilitator John Kurtovich for the heads up.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.

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