May 12, 1950 — October 18, 2022
Ed is survived by his wife of 42 years, Lori; his two sisters, Catherine Galligan and Ann Fitzgerald; his nephew, Eugene Galligan; his two cousins, Markie (Margaret) Hartling and Eileen Sweeney; and cousin Michael Hartling (Jill).
Ed grew up in Parkchester, a large housing development owned by Metropolitan Life in the East Bronx. Parkchester consisted of over 100 apartment buildings, each seven or 12-stories high; and, when Ed was growing up, had a population of close to 50,000. Unlike public housing projects, Parkchester had a lot of open space, with plenty of grassy areas, playgrounds, basketball courts, shuffleboard courts, and a large softball field. It was a self-contained community, with numerous supermarkets, restaurants, stationary stores, doctors and dentist offices, delicatessens, drug stores, laundromats, dry cleaners, a bowling alley, a public library, and the first Macy’s after its flagship Herald Square store. The majority of Parkchester residents were Catholic and two parishes served them: St. Helena’s and St. Raymond’s. Ed’s family went to St. Helena’s, so he attended St. Helena’s Grammar School, where he made friends he would keep for the rest of his life. Although they did not realize it at the time, those who grew up with Ed in Parkchester look back with incredible fondness on Parkchester, recognizing how lucky they were to have lived there.
Parkchester is divided into four quadrants — North, South, East, and West. Although Ed lived in the North, he hung out in the East with his friends from St. Helena’s. Almost all of his friends had nicknames. Some were derivatives of their last names — Knobby for Knoblich, Okie for O’Connor, for example — while others were more exotic — Apple, Nugget, Chowter, Ish, Bish, Jazz ‘em Up, for example. Ed was unusual in that he had several nicknames — Fitz and Fitzy were the obvious ones, but he was also called Whip, Slick, Frenchy, and Habla Espanol.
Like many of his grammar school classmates, Ed went to St. Helena’s High School, which required a ride on the Q44 bus. As soon as he was able to get his working papers, he got a job at the D’Agostino’s supermarket that just opened in Parkchester. Research indicates that the assistant manager there gave him the nickname Whip. He worked there for several years. As soon as he had saved enough money, he bought a VW Beetle, which he loved. His friends recall him driving and when a favorite song of his, like “Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay” or “Sunny,” came on the radio, he would give a slight shake of his head and reach over to turn the volume up.
He loved to get out on the road, even before he had his own car. In August, 1968, after he had graduated from high school, he persuaded his aunt to rent a car for him; and he and three friends went on the now-legendary “Whip Trip,” five days driving through upstate New York to Niagara Falls, into Canada, around Lake Ontario, through the Thousand Islands, down to Ausable Chasm, and finally Cooperstown before returning to The Bronx. They had no sleeping bags, or tents, and relied for light on a kerosene lantern they stole from a construction site. More than 50 years later, they still talked about that adventure.
He and his friends took many trips in that VW, including one to Acadia National Park in Maine and an insane trip in a blizzard to an unheated house in the Catskills.
While he went to St. Francis College in Brooklyn, he drove a cab in the City. He had varied experiences but left New York after being hit head-on by another cab on the Grand Concourse. At that point, Ed left New York with a friend on a cross-country adventure, meeting and making friends along the way. They eventually made it to Oakland, CA, where they stayed for awhile with former Parkchester/Bronx friends and acquaintances.
Ed continued his journey, ending up in Kansas, where he lived on a farm and worked as a hod-carrier and later a framer on construction sites. California was calling to him, and he headed back west. He lived briefly in So Cal on Balboa Island, working in a leather shop where he learned to make sandals and belts (very groovy).
Ed next found himself in Eureka. He attended Humboldt State University and attained his BS in forestry, with an emphasis in fire science. It was at this time that Ed met Lori, his wife of 42 years. Soon after graduating from HSU, Ed got a job with Natural Resources Management, a firm that contracted to survey/cruise what is now Redwood State and National Parks. He loved that work and made great and lasting friends there.
wasn’t one to let grass grow under his feet for very long. He had a
few careers before he retired. He made many friends during his
careers in real estate, working as an appraiser at the Humboldt
County Assessor’s office and finally at the California Department of
Transportation as a right-of-way agent. Up to his last day, he was
making friends as a volunteer working on trails in what is known as
the McKay Tract.
was a true and loyal friend to all he met and a loving husband. He
lived life his way, and he passed the same way: at home.
The family thanks Ayres Family Cremation for preparing Ed for his final journey. A Celebration of Life is planned for the spring of 2023.
The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Ed Fitzgerald’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.