Richard “Dick” Fitzgerald, 75, of Spot O’ Green farm in Dell Rapids went home to the Lord due to complications from Parkinson’s Disease and Prostate cancer surrounded by those who loved him on 2 June 2019 at the Dells Nursing and Rehab Center. His Memorial Mass is at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, June 10, 2019 in St. Mary Catholic Church, Dell Rapids. Visitation with the family present is from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 9, 2019 at Kahler Funeral Home. The Christian Wake is at 3:00 p.m. www.kahlerfh.com.
Dick was born in Dell Rapids to Leo Fitzgerald and Naomi (Lowder) Fitzgerald in 1944. He met his wife of 53 years, Mary Reecy in the first grade, but it was not love at first sight. Mary remembers him having cooties at that age. Evidently, he was cured of his case of the cooties as Dick and Mary were married in Dell Rapids in January of 1966. She remained his best friend and was at his side to his last breath.
By the time he reached his sophomore year, he was asked by the choir director to consider taking study hall instead of choir because of his unique singing voice. In his senior year, track and field arrived at St Mary’s High School. As he, Harry Evans and Jerry Klein sat stretching to prepare for practice, they looked at each other and asked each other what in the world they were doing there. That was the end of their track career. After graduating from St Mary’s High School, he attended South Dakota State University where he graduated with a bachelor’s of Science.
He was active in 4-H as a young man, showing particular interest in showing cattle, hogs and sheep where he earned champion showman honors. He put the skills he learned to use years later as an adult 4-H leader when his children were able to participate.
Dick farmed his family homestead for several years but was better known for selling the best Christmas trees in the area for 35 years. He worked at Park’s Meat Locker and drove the bus for the Dell Rapids School District for many years and was a fixture at wrestling matches where everyone could hear him yelling for the wrestlers to “SQUEEZE!”. He eventually moved on from the locker and started working in the plant nursery industry. He loved this job because it gave him the chance to do two of his favorite things…talk with people and talk about plants and trees.
He loved being a thespian with the Old Opera House Players and was well known for his still unique singing voice, and his characterization of the villain in melodramas, perhaps because he was a little bit of a rebel himself when he was off stage. He was a fixture in the group of men who met every morning to solve the world’s problems and have some coffee together.
Anyone who knew Dick knows he loved the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. In fact, there were few days when he didn’t have on a Notre Dame hat, shirt, jacket, shoes or some combination of all three. This fact led to his grandchildren believing he was a leprechaun. No one ever provided any proof to the contrary. He had the opportunity to watch his beloved Fighting Irish in person on several occasions, most recently when Notre Dame beat LSU with a miraculous ending in the 2018 Citrus Bowl.
He was a man who didn’t let convention keep him from doing what he wanted to do. Rules were made to be bent, if not broken given the proper circumstances. If he wanted to do something, he did it; damn the rules, for good or bad.
Dick is survived by his wife Mary, son Bret and wife Ashleigh and their children Tristan, Keira, Gwenevere and Quinn-Killian of Triangle, VA; son Scot and wife Rachel of Canton, SD; son Dean and wife Jen and their children Kellen and Erin of Melbourne, FL; daughter Kathleen and husband Roscoe Taylor of Houston, TX and daughter Bridget of Orlando, FL. He is also survived by his brother Jerry and wife Nettie Fitzgerald, Gehring, NE, and his sister-in-law Gail Fitzgerald, Colombia, MO.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for people who are so inclined to donate to The National Parkinson’s Foundation.
The family requested that people wear Notre Dame attire for the visitation and service.