Richard Thomas Fitzgerald
SALISBURY — Richard Thomas Fitzgerald, 77, died Aug. 1, 2014, at his home in Venice, Fla.He was born May 22, 1937, in Melrose, Mass., the son of the late Regina (Ford) and Gerald Arthur Fitzgerald.A longtime resident of Lakeville, Dick — as he was better known to those who had him for a lawyer, a shipmate or a close friend or relative — moved to Florida upon retirement from his legal practice and the probate judgeship for the town of Salisbury. As probate judge for nearly 30 years, Dick enjoyed bipartisan Democratic and Republican support throughout his tenure. He was a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Georgetown University School of Law.Moving to Lakeville shortly after qualifying to practice law in Connecticut, Dick structured a life that had until then many changes of scene, from his birthplace in Melrose to Long Island, New Jersey, Delaware, upstate New York, the nation’s capital, Tehran and, finally, Westport, Conn. He wanted to live in a place that was rural and relatively unchanging and that provided the conditions he needed to develop deep and lasting friendships. His goal was to become a country lawyer, raise a family and enjoy boating both locally on Lakeville Lake and also on Long Island Sound. He played the piano, enjoyed music and, toward the end of his life, took great pleasure in those and other leisure activities, including oil painting and time spent on the water in Newport, R.I., and Venice, among other places.He was a gifted musician, largely self-taught, who enlivened get-togethers with his piano playing. He had a keen interest in others’ cultures and liked to travel. With his brother, Gerry, who lives in Ireland, Dick also joined a group of Irish sailors on chartered large sailing vessels to explore interesting and challenging European waters, including the Ionian, the Adriatic and the Baltic seas. He was selfless in many ways, often putting his own desires second to those of the people he loved. In 2013, he invited his brothers, son, grandson, nephew and grand-nephew on a weeklong sailing trip, circumnavigating the Caribbean island of Tortola in a 37-foot catamaran. The voyage was the trip of a lifetime, one that Dick enjoyed despite the challenges to his health at that time. His tenacity and endurance throughout his illness were extraordinary and an inspiration to those around him. He was open to others and appreciative of their attention but demanded little. Dick is survived by his son, Matthew, of Alexandria, Va.; his daughter, Anne Fitzgerald, of North Canaan; a grandson, Sipho; five granddaughters, Aida, Macie, EllaMae, Tallulah and Tennyson; and his brothers, Gerald of Drogheda, Ireland, and Washington, D.C., and David, of Bloomington, Minn. Dick’s wife, the former Martha Alexandra Ehlen, predeceased him in 2000, as did his son Peter, who died at age 19 following a severe allergic reaction in 1993. A later marriage, to Angela Engle, ended in divorce. He is also survived by Gail Nowasky, a companion and dear friend. They enjoyed playing golf and singing together and they were of great comfort to each other.Dick will always be remembered as a loving father, husband, brother and friend to many. His son Matthew and daughter Anne are comforted to be bringing their father home to be laid to rest in Salisbury alongside his wife, Martha, and son Peter. He loved the Northwest Corner of Connecticut and spoke often in his final months of many wonderful memories.A funeral service will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27, at 11a.m. at St. Mary’s Church in Lakeville.Arrangements are under the care of the Newkirk-Palmer Funeral Home in North Canaan.