Thomas Joseph Fitzpatrick Jr, a dedicated husband and loving father, died of complications from back surgery at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, MD on May 3, 2013. Son of the late Thomas J. Fitzpatrick and Los M Swallow Fitzpatrick, he is survived by his wife Joyce M Bergdoll Fitzpatrick, Grasonville MD; sister Margaret Leach, Boise ID; cousin Sue Edwards, Arcanum, Ohio; and his three children Tom III, Grasonville MD; Mary Kathleen Weaver, York PA; and Michael Kevin, Falls Church VA. Born in 1937 in Dayton, Ohio, he attended high school in Norfolk Virginia and later in York, Pennsylvania, where he met his future wife, Joyce Bergdoll. Both attended Penn State University where Tom earned a degree in Business and became a lifelong supporter of Nittany Lion football and loyal admirer of coach Joe Paterno. Commissioned as a Naval officer upon graduation in 1959, Lt JG Fitzpatrick was assigned to the USS Sarsfield in Key West, FL. Tom and Joyce were wed on March 19, 1960, beginning an adventurous 53-year marriage in sunny Key West, where Thomas III was born.
Honorably discharged from the Navy in 1963, Tom commenced his government career as a management intern with the Department of State in Wash DC, where daughter Kathleen and youngest son Michael were born. He earned an MBA from George Washington University in 1967. Tom’s first posting overseas was as a USIS Public Affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia from 1970 to 1974. During a 3-year subsequent assignment back in Washington he transferred to the Department of State. From 1977-1993 Tom was posted overseas as an Administrative Officer and Counselor, serving in Mexico, Venezuela, Spain, Brazil, and ultimately reaching the rank of Minister Counselor for Management Affairs during a second tour in Mexico, one of the largest embassies in the world. Tom formed many close and constant friendships during these years retaining them to his death.
Colleagues and subordinates, both Foreign Service and local staff, considered Tom an exemplary co-worker and supervisor. With a relaxed style and easy wit he was able to elicit the best from his staff. He established a well-earned reputation as an expert in the logistics of VIP travel and was invited by the White House on many occasions to support and manage presidential trips abroad. Throughout his career, Tom also served on many school and work related boards, oftentimes functioning as the liaison between the Embassy and the local community. Tom and Joyce never failed to host an annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration in every country they served and these “events” were considered a high-light of the Embassy social calendar. For most Foreign Service officers a lack of language fluency is a major drawback, but this did not deter Tom: he learned just enough wherever he served to order a Johnny Walker on the rocks, find the bathroom , greet and thank others, and retain that congenial wit with everyone he encountered.
Tom retired in 1997 with the rank of Minister Counselor in the Senior Foreign Service and the couple moved to the Chesapeake Bay in 2000. In retirement, Tom loved his armchair sports, avidly following Penn State and Washington area teams as well as golf and tennis. The St Patrick’s Day celebrations continued for many years into retirement, drawing friends from far and wide.
To the end Tom maintained a strong will to survive and remained true to himself. He possessed great strength of character, high personal and moral standards, and strong commitment to family. He appreciated constancy and friendships in his life. In his final years Tom was reserved and soft-spoken with new acquaintances, but those who knew him well appreciated his mastery of one-liners and sarcastic zingers. We will miss that Irish wit and perspective.
Private services for the family will be held in Washington DC. Tributes in Tom’s honor may be sent to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (cbf.org), 410 268-8816 or to the Chesapeake Conservancy (chesapeakeconservancy.org), 443 3213610.