April 4, 1948 – October 31, 2020
On Saturday, October 31, 2020, Norah Fitzgerald passed away peacefully at the age of 72 in her adopted home of New York City.
Norah was born on April 4, 1948, in the family farmhouse in the village of Athea, in County Limerick, Ireland. Norah started her education in Clash Primary School and achieved the Primary Certificate. During her early teenage years, Norah was diagnosed with tuberculosis and spent nine months in a sanatorium. During that time, Norah developed a love for classical and contemporary music. Her lifelong love was The Beatles, and she even had The Beatles hair cut!
Norah then went to Miss Woulfe’s Secondary School in Abbeyfeale. Norah frequently said Miss Woulfe was an inspirational individual and teacher who respected her students and empowered them to feel confident in themselves. Unfortunately, four years into Norah’s studies, Miss Woulfe retired and the school closed. Norah then transferred to the Convent School in Abbeyfeale. Even back then Norah showed great strength and sense of character and confidence. At the end of her first week, Norah came home and told her parents, “The nuns are not for me. I’m leaving school and I’m going to do a shorthand and typing course in Limerick.” To say that her parents were not happy was an understatement, but Norah was determined.
And so, the next chapter in her life began. Norah stayed in Limerick Monday through Friday. After her last class, she would hitchhike back home, usually stopping off to have tea with Auntie Mary before walking over the fields to her home. Norah completed the diploma course with distinction from Mrs. McNamara Secretarial School. Norah then got a job working for Limerick County Council for the next year, which was quite a prestigious position in those days.
Norah arrived in America in August 1968 to serve as a bridesmaid in her sister Kathleen’s wedding. Norah had decided she wanted to live and work in New York City but work permits were hard to come by, so she made the trip on a visitor visa.
After Kathleen’s wedding, Norah and her sister Mary Ita would pound the pavement visiting the Irish, English, and Australian Embassies and the Irish Tourist Board – as you did not need a work permit for them, but there were no positions available. She then applied for a job at the United Nations, and after three successive days of interviews, she was offered a position in their Pension Office.
While working at the United Nations Norah received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Marymount Manhattan College in 1986. Hard work and long hours at the UN afforded her great opportunities to work overseas including a stretch in Geneva where she even became fluent in French. Norah proudly worked for the United Nations for forty years, retiring in 2008 as the Director of their Pension Fund.
Norah’s passion for travel continued throughout her retirement, including trips to Australia, Cuba, and an African safari. In 2011, Norah joined her nephew Alex and niece Emmy, as well as Dom in Peru where they walked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – although it was reported that Norah may have had a piggyback for a stretch of the journey!
Norah also had a passion for healthy living. She enjoyed her annual winter yoga retreats in Upstate New York. She had a great appreciation for nature and enjoyed her daily walks.
Norah’s sense of style was effortless, timeless, and elegant. She invested in classic pieces and took special pleasure in the items she’d uncover at the sales on Fifth Avenue. Norah shared her love of fashion and style with loved ones, including her nieces by always reminding them of quality over quantity.
Norah was a real socialite, and she enjoyed visiting art galleries, museums, the theater and cinema, and her weekly afternoon teas with friends. On her return visits to Ireland, Norah was fond of Dublin and stopped there to shop on Grafton Street and have coffee and scones in the famous Bewleys.
Although Norah embraced a cosmopolitan lifestyle, she never forgot her roots in Ireland and enjoyed her many visits home. Even though Norah lived in New York City for more than fifty years, she always kept a piece of Ireland in her heart. The 2017 gathering at the farmhouse in Athea included all of her siblings, nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and great-nephews. Norah played a pivotal role in organizing this event.
Norah’s last trip to Ireland in 2019 was full of joy, laughter, and fun. No trip to Ireland was without an element of surprise for someone. Her brother Michael’s birthday was celebrated in style with a picnic in Phoenix Park, a limo ride around Dublin, and a feast that ended with a sing along. Norah gave her time freely and regularly volunteered at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Ever insightful, Norah was as kind as she was compassionate. Norah was selfless, generous and full of fun. She valued family and friends. The trips her family made to New York were memorable – from arrival to departure. Norah would give everyone the royal treatment. Norah was proud of all her nieces and nephews, and loved talking with them and sharing support and encouragement.
Norah was preceded in death by her loving parents Jack Fitzgerald and Nellie Fitzgerald (nee Tierney), and is survived by her siblings Kathleen, Mary Ita, Michael, Eileen, Sean, and Patrick, as well as thirteen nieces and nephews, and fifteen great nieces and nephews.
Norah’s loving manner, cheerful energy and smiling presence will always be missed and forever remembered and loved.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, November 8, 2020 at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel between the hours of 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hAnam dílis”
Please use the following link to view the service. It will begin at 2:30p EST. http://webcast.dignitymemorial.com/ Memorial ID: 39822 No password required
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
November 8, 2020
I first met Norah in 1999 as a colleague for 2 years and afterwards kept in touch until she retired. For most colleagues she was a private and formal person. My memory is about her wry sense of humour - how we used to sit in the office after hours and laugh so much about everything that transpired. Every year since she retired we said we would get together and I anticipated a good ribbing. But alas now it's too late and I also regret not being able to make the service today. God Bless You Norah.
November 8, 2020
Norah was my first boss at the United Nations. She personified integrity, diligence and dedication. Norah was also kind and fun. Working with her made coming to work each day easier and something to look forward to. Norah has my deepest respect and gratitude and my sincere prayers for her swift and safe journey back home.
November 7, 2020
The Lunch Brunch Ladies would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family of Norah Fitzgerald. It is with deep sadness that we express our sympathy. We will miss Norah's sweet and lively conversations. Norah was remarkable in so many ways with a lovely spirit.
November 6, 2020
Our sincere condolences to the Fitzgerald family on your sad loss. Despite decades in New York City Norah kept her Irish accent which, along with her striking red hair and porcelain skin, ensured that she personified the storied Irish colleen. A woman of formidable intelligence, Norah loved to debate current affairs and she always kept her sense of humor, no matter how heated the discussion might become, as sometimes happened. Her realism was tempered with a kind and gentle heart. She looked for the best in everyone around her. In fact, Norah had the great gift of being able to reframe life’s upsets as positive events or at worst, as understandable. More than once, we thanked god for her insight after she had convinced us that something or other was ‘all to the good’. A colleague, a friend, a traveler, a storyteller, she was always lively and entertaining company. Norah loved going to the theatre and dissecting the performance afterwards over dinner and drinks with our little theatre group, an interest we pursued together for years, until just a few months ago, when the theatres closed their doors. We cried our eyes out at sad plays and laughed through the funny ones. Sure, we all enjoyed the ‘craic’. Norah lit up our lives and her untimely passing has broken our hearts.
Ellen Murphy & Elizabeth Morrin
November 6, 2020
We at MSK could not ask for a more devoted, a more kind, and more soulful volunteer. Patients and staff are forever grateful for her service and for her warmth. We are better for knowing her.
November 5, 2020
The good memory of Nora my roommate in our China trip. Nora got up early and go out by herself and bought us bottled water everyday on the trip. The 4 of us got along beautifully and she even let the old ladies and little kids to touch her hair, she did not get upset when people walk up to her to stare at her hair.
Nora has taught me a lot at work, and she was a friend and not the boss during the whole trip.
November 5, 2020
Norah was a superb Supervisor wanting to comprehend the ins and outs of Pension Fund. She would also help you in other ways, even if it was personal. Norah would take you into her office to help you regarding the problem at work or personal problems. Her calm nature in dealing with problems and deadlines in Pension Fund ensured that her co-workers were also relaxed and confident so that we could meet head-on the deadlines. I cannot express my gratitude in having Norah as my supervisor and I hope as my friend. May she rest in Peace.