James Austin Fitzgerald
June 12, 1941 – October 31, 2018
James Austin Fitzgerald “Fitz” died peacefully at home on October 31, 2018 in Chevy Chase, Maryland, at the age of 77.
Fitz is survived by his wife, Geraldine Hirsch Fitzgerald, son David Fitzgerald (Bethany Crouch) of Wilmington, Delaware, daughter Maura Fuller (Daniel Fuller) of Delmar, NY, step-daughter Melissa Dimas (Cesar Dimas) of Brooklyn, NY, step-son Eric Kahn of Palm Springs, CA, six grandchildren, and his dog, Finn. He is preceded in death by his wife, Doris Beyerle Fitzgerald.
Fitz, a resident of Bethany Beach, Delaware, was born on June 12, 1941 in West Springfield, Massachusetts to Bernard and Alma Fitzgerald. Jim graduated from the College of the Holy Cross (1962), and then Yale Law School (1965) where he was active in the Yale Democratic Club in the 1964 presidential election. Jim served on active duty in the U.S. Navy as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, which included a tour of duty in Danang, Vietnam in 1968-1969, and was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”. After his discharge from active duty in 1969, Jim remained in the U.S. Naval Reserve for 28 years and rose to the rank of captain, retiring in 1993. In 1970, Jim was appointed by the President as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. After several distinguished years there, he joined the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) serving nearly two decades as Assistant General Counsel for Legal Counsel, Legislation and Special Projects. During this period, he took the lead role in establishing the NRC’s Office of Investigations, an office responsible for investigating alleged wrongdoing by the nuclear industry. In 1999, he became the Deputy Director of that office. During his tenure at the NRC, Jim served as a member of the Senior Executive Service for close to 30 years, received an NRC award for Meritorious Service and the prestigious Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Service. Jim retired from the NRC in 2008. After retiring, he split his time between the District of Columbia and Bethany Beach, Delaware, and performed pro bono legal work assisting immigrants through Catholic Charities. Jim’s first marriage was to Doris Beyerle Fitzgerald, a navy nurse he met in Vietnam. That marriage ended by a tragic auto accident in 1988. Through his unswerving dedication and help from family, Jim was able to raise the children as a single parent despite his busy work life. In 1990 he met Geraldine Hirsch who became an understanding and compassionate partner. They married in 1996 and together they built a loving, supportive life together for themselves and their children, traveling worldwide on many adventures.
Jim was a talented lawyer, imbued with a sense of humor and an inordinate amount of common sense and sound judgment. He had a great love of family, was selfless, and always was ready to help others. He was an active member of St Ann’s Catholic Church in Bethany Beach, serving as a member of the St Vincent De Paul Society. He was a great supporter and participant in the Washington Ireland Program, as he and his wife hosted Catholic and Protestant college students from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to facilitate peace in those countries. Boy Scouts were also an important part of Jim’s life. Jim was an Eagle Scout, Boy Scout leader for troop 439 in Kensington, Maryland, and coordinator of the Boy Scout High Adventure Program for the Adirondacks. He loved hiking, camping, happy hour on the beach, canoeing and coffee.
A wake is schedule for Sunday, November 4 from 4-7PM at Joseph Gawler’s Sons, LLC, 5130 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC. 20016. A funeral is scheduled for Monday, November 5, at 11 am at Holy Redeemer Church, Summit Ave, Kensington, MD Burial will be held at Gate of Heaven cemetery, 32112 Vines Creek Rd, Dagsboro, DE 19939 at 10 am on Wednesday, November 7. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Montgomery Hospice. The family would like to thank Montgomery Hospice and Sister Pat Corby, SNJM for their efforts in caring for Jim.
- Montgomery Hospice
- Visitation Sunday, November 4, 2018
- Mass of Christian Burial Monday, November 5, 2018
- Burial Wednesday, November 7, 2018
James Austin Fitzgerald
have a memory or condolence to add?ADD A MEMORY
November 6, 2018
I met Jim when he volunteered for us at Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services in DC. He had a brilliant legal mind, a heart full of compassion for those in need, and a hilarious sense of humor. He always had a smile and a helping hand. It was a blessing to know him. My deepest condolences to his family. Rest in Peace, Jim. May the road rise to meet you.
November 5, 2018
Uncle Jim was a close family friend since before I was born. Best friends with my Uncle Bob. He was so loved by my family my parents chose him to be my godfather. I remember visiting his mother Aunt Alma every time we were in Massachusetts to see my grandmother Helen Genereux. Words cannot express how sad I am about his passing. He was an amazing man. My deepest sympathy to the family. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
November 5, 2018
Rest in Peace Jim
So many fun memories growing up in the West Side neighborhood and spending time with you and your mom and dad. I remember making your wedding cake for you and Gerri, boy was that a challenge and a lot of fun.
So glad for the times our families shared together. May Gods blessings comfort your family and may you find a special place with our Lord and Savior.
November 5, 2018
Jim and I served together in Vietnam. He was one of the most outstanding Navy JAG officers, it was my pleasure to know. Jim was truly an outstanding attorney and person. The world is truly a better place for Jim’s having been with us.
November 5, 2018
Fitz was one of the first people I met when I started work for the NRC at East-West Towers in Bethesda, MD. I remember his easy, warm smile, approachability and friendliness, that quickly put me at ease. Years later, when Fitz moved to the new Office of Investigations at NRC, I remember being surprised that he, a career attorney, would decide to give up his legal position in General Counsel’s office. I did not know at the time that his move would be an important precedent for me to make a similar move later in my career.
November 3, 2018
My deepest sympathy to Jimmy's family and friends. I hadn't seen Jim in along time,actualy the last time I saw him was when he came up from D.C. for my mothers funeral. Jim and I grew up together and were best frinds from the time we were about 7 years old at St. Thomas school and Cathedral High school. WE were in the cub and boy scouts together. We were so close my mother and I were at his mothers bed side when she passed away. When he got out of the service he actualy worked for me putting in inground pools until he got his first job..Having life long friends like that is a blessing and I feel very lucky to have known him I just wish that I could have seen him more over the years but distance away made it tough. I am sure that he will be greatly missed by his family and friends My deepest sympathy to all, I know that I will always miss him and I am thankfull that I knew him. Bob Genereux , a life long friend
November 1, 2018
Jim was both a colleague and friend. We served together in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Dist. of Columbia beginning in 1970 until he left the Office and went with another federal agency. He had a razor sharp mind and wonderful sense of humor. I looked forward to seeing Jim and other former colleagues at breakfast gatherings when I returned to the D.C. area. I will miss that sparkle in his eyes and his trenchant observations about a wide range of subjects. He served his country with distinction both as a naval officer and a federal prosecutor. Rest In Peace, Jim.