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FITZGERALD, James Vincent Jr. "Jim" passed away peacefully on September 5, 2021 at the age of 76. Jim was born in New Jersey but spent the majority of his life in Florida. In 1973, Jim and his family moved to Colorado where he developed his love for the Rocky Mountains while attending the University of Colorado in Boulder, earning degrees in both Russian and Eastern European History. In 1980, Jim and his family moved to Tampa, Florida where he resided for the remainder of his life. He began volunteering as a Boy Scout Leader when his son was young. Being a Scout Leader was the impetus for him to become a teacher. He started teaching at Burns Middle School but moved on to Brandon High School where he taught until his retirement in 2011. "Fitz" as he was known, had a seminal impact on the lives and careers of his students. His students worked on projects in newspaper, video production and animation, and every year he took a small group to New York to further enhance their knowledge and experience. If anyone asked what they were doing, they need only show the camera in their hand to know that their response would be "I'm with Fitz". Jim and Becky found each other at the right time in their lives and married in 2007. They loved and laughed and travelled the world together. His love of driving, particularly his Porsche, is what prompted their desire to drive across the country. Jim and Becky travelled everywhere together and enjoyed their trips to Alaska and Europe and flying to locations like Morocco, China and Thailand. Jim enjoyed food and was always ready to try a new recipe, especially from the places that he and Becky travelled. He was an avid reader and writer, having taken up writing poetry over the past few years. Jim enjoyed spending time with his friends which included a breakfast group that met every Friday. It was well known that he enjoyed a fine cigar, a great wine and an intelligent conversation. He was always quick with his humor, memory and wit and he never backed away from a challenge. Jim had an immeasurable impact on the lives of everyone that knew and loved him. He is survived by his wife, Becky Fitzgerald; his son, James V. Fitzgerald III, James's wife, Ami, their three children, Conor, Sean and Colin; his daughter, Darby Hertz, her husband, Mark, their two children, Mark and Sara; his stepsons, Dr. Christopher Nolte his daughter, Lauren and Steven Nolte, his wife Amy, their children, Natalie, Tyler, Mathew, Benjamin and Blakely. Jim's life will be celebrated on Saturday, September 11, 2021 at 2 pm at 1431 Piney Branch Circle, Valrico, Florida. In lieu of flowers please donate to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Published by Tampa Bay Times from Sep. 8 to Sep. 12, 2021.
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This form asks you to choose how you knew this person. The options are Family, Friend, Work, School or Other. I paused to think about what to put, but settled on Other. And that truly describes everything about Fitz. He was not just my teacher during my most formative high school years. He was practically my dad during high school. He was definitely my counselor. I spent those three years living in the newspaper and video production room. I spent my summers there with him each day. I went to New York twice on the newspaper trip. Fitz taught. That was what he did. Even when he didn't mean to. He taught me the joys of sushi and coffee...both of which I still love. He taught me how to keep a ficus alive. He taught me how to fill the space I occupied, both on air and in a room. He taught me to assume I can do something, not that I can't. The keys he gave us didn't just open the newsroom and the TV studio. They opened doors for us for the rest of our lives. We stayed in touch for several years after graduation, but as always happens, I grew up and away. To this day, he holds a special place in my life. I am better because I knew him and my thoughts go out to his family. He talked about you often back in the newspaper room and it was clear he loved you very much.
Sarrah (Reifenberg) Stutzman
September 9, 2021
Please accept my deepest sympathy to the Fitzgerald Family for the loss of your loved one, James Vincent, Jr., "Jim", and pray God gives you comfort, peace and strength.
Jo H.
September 8, 2021
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