Jean Fitzgerald,Captain US Navy Ret.
April 22, 1926 – December 7, 2014
Jean Fitzgerald, a longtime resident of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, died on December 7, 2014, in Jacksonville, Florida, of heart failure. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 22, 1926, to Fama Patricia (Rebsamen) and Spencer James Fitzgerald. He attended public schools in St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Detroit before moving to Washington, D.C., where he graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1943. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 until 1974, when he retired as a captain, having commanded a destroyer, a destroyer tender, and three destroyer divisions. He also served in the offices of the Chief of Naval Personnel, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Secretary of Defense. He saw service in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam. He held a bachelor of science degree from the University of Maryland and a master of public administration degree from Harvard University, and was a graduate of the National War College.
Jean was the editor of his wife Carol’s two books, The Rivers of America: A Descriptive Bibliography (2001) and Series Americana: Post Depression-Era Regional Literature, 1938-1980 (2009), both published by Oak Knoll Press in association with The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. He leaves his wife Carol; two stepsons, John Michael McKee, Jr., and James Scott McKee; and three step-grandchildren, Sarah L., Justin A., and Jason P. McKee; his sister-in-law, Lois Jean Knoepfel and her husband Hans; his nephews Hans E. (Brandi) and Robert M. Knoepfel; and his great-nephew Hans L. Knoepfel, of Jacksonville, Florida.
After his retirement from the Navy in 1974, Jean was Director of Engineering, Systems Technology Division of Tracor, Inc., in the Washington, D.C. area. While there, he was the originating project manager for the design and development of a $300 million system of shore-based ship repair facilities for the Navy. These facilities were subsequently established at seven naval bases in the U.S. In 1976, he moved to Fort Lauderdale, and served as president of Tracor Marine (1976-1979), then based at Port Everglades, operating a full-service shipyard and a fleet of oceanographic research vessels.
Jean was one of the six founders of the Port Everglades Association, the Port business organization, in 1979, and its first president and executive director. He served again as the association president in 2009, its thirtieth year, and in 2010. He was a co-founder of the Florida Alliance, a multi-state consortium of maritime interests promoting environmentally responsible transportation of refined petroleum products into the South Florida market and opposing the conversion to liquid petroleum products of an interstate gas pipeline terminating in Florida. He was the Alliance president from 1983 until 1986 and its chairman from 1992 until 1999. In 1981 he was an adjunct professor in economics of the Nova Institute of Coastal Studies, Fort Lauderdale, teaching a graduate-level course in the economics of the coastal zone. From 1984 to 1988, he was a commissioner of the Port Everglades Authority, appointed by the Broward Country Commission to represent business interests at the port and in the Broward community. From 1988 to 1990, he was an associate vice president of Frederic R. Harris, Inc., an international consulting engineering firm. He was the firm’s project director for the construction management of the $105 million Southport expansion project at Port Everglades.
In 1982 and 1983, Jean was vice president, government relations, of Hvide Shipping Incorporated (later Seabulk International), supervising the firm’s relations with federal, state, and local governments. In 1999 and 2000 he returned to the firm as chairman, president, and chief executive officer.
At various times, Jean was a member of the Maritime Policy Committee of the Chamber of Shipping of America; the General Committee on Marine Transportation of the American Petroleum Institute; the U.S. Maritime Cabotage Task Force; and the Jones Act Defense Committee of the American Waterways Operators, all of Washington, D.C. From 1979 to 1993, he was a director of the Marine Resources Development Foundation of Key Largo, Florida.
Possessing unflagging interest in cultural, professional, and civic matters, Jean was vice president of Broward Civic Center, Inc. (1980-1984), the six-member forerunner organization in the creation of the present Broward Center for the Performing Arts. He later served from 1993 to 1997 as a member of the Center Authority and was its vice president in 1996 and 1997. He was the founder and first chairman of Broward Navy Days, Inc. (1990-1993), the major organization promoting the annual Fleet Week and supporting Navy and Coast Guard ship visits to Broward County. He was a co-founder and later president of the Gold Coast Jazz Society, founded in 1992.
Jean was a board member of the Broward Public Library Foundation (1996-1999); a member of the Planning and Funding Committee of the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center; a member of the Library Advisory Board; and, with his wife, Carol, a “Founder” of the Broward County Public Library. Earlier, he had been a board member of the Fort Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra, which, after a series of mergers, evolved into the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra. He was a member of the Broward Arts Council (1980-1987), and its chairman (1985-1987). He was an early board member of Seafarers’ House of Port Everglades, and later a member of its Advisory Council, a membership he maintained until his death.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Seafarers House, 2550 Eisenhower Blvd., Suite 207, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33316 (www.seafarershouse.org), or to Light of the World Clinic, 806 Prospect Rd., Oakland Park, Florida 33334 (www.lightoftheworldclinic.com).
The family will receive friends from five o’clock until seven o’clock in the evening on Thursday, December 11, 2014 at The Oaklawn Chapel. Funeral services will be held at eleven o’clock in the morning on Friday, December 12, 2014 at Jacksonville National Cemetery with full military honors. HARDAGE-GIDDENS, THE OAKLAWN CHAPEL, 4801 San Jose Boulevard is serving the family.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Friday, December 12, 2014