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Thread: RIP Daniel John Fitzgerald -- Oh, Danny Boy !

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    Feb 2007
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    Default RIP Daniel John Fitzgerald -- Oh, Danny Boy !

    It was a proper send up, indeed, for the Irishman, Daniel John Fitzgerald this fine day !

    From daughter Kelly, on through to brother, Jim, the lovefest never ended and the appreciation of a loyal, loving, charitable and one-of-a-kind character, swept through the crowd of mourners over and over.

    And to a person, the emphasis was on the friendships and caring this man brought to all who ever met him, at Gonzaga, in Spokane and throughout his life. He was celebrated as much more than a coach and as bigger than the program, its successes and even the young men he recruited that now coach the Zags, or at San Diego and Long Beach. All these things, it was agreed, not just one in particular, remain his legacy forever. He planted the seeds.

    One Northern Quest Casino employee I asked placed the number participating in the celebration of Fitz' life at 1,200. I can only add this: the place was full and there were people standing along the walls on all sides.

    I apologize in advance at this point because I did not bring a pen and paper to write down salient quotes. There were many. I thought this was being streamed so figured you all would be served that way.

    What I can say is it was a love fest and it went on from start to finish and carried on for at least two hours beyond the scheduled times.

    Among the speakers after daughter Kelly and finisher, broJim Fitzgerald, were nephews Jim & Ryan, former Zag players Jeff Brown & Geoff Goss, former Asst. coach Dan Monson, Jr., Phil Haugen, Northen Quest Asst. General Manager & Peter Riverso, General Manager of Northern quest.

    Absent notes, I will tell you I have been to many, many, tributes and heard dozens of eulogies. These were among the best, mainly because of the subject, his incredible personality, love of stories & gift of gab, that I have ever heard. The subject, if you will, was rich, and therefore, in retrospect, so were the stories. As a result, there were many funny lines and good stories told and warm remembrances shared beginning to end.

    Before the finish, there was a touching 10-15 minute video presentation of Fitz from childhood through his entire life, accompanied by beautiful, emotional, Irish songs everyone has heard.

    Several things were conspicuously absent from the celebration: all of them centered around Gonzaga University. There was no mention of Gonzaga University by name. No cataloguing of Fitz's victories and challenges there and very little chat about all those decades he devoted to the school he loved. No semblance of thanks or any devotion being returned to him by anyone from Gonzaga, either. Several speakers alluded to the good old days and past teams and experiences, but only rarely was the school, rather than Fitz, the center of the conversation.

    Clearly, the divide between this most-famous coach and it's now international program, remained, even in his passing. Sadly.

    What his family, friends, former coaches and former players did emphasize was the impact he had on them personally, the program, in general, and their lives after college. In that sense it was surreal. As surreal as coming to grips with the fact that he was actually gone. Forever.

    The only Jesuit I saw there was former GU president Bernie Coughlin. He was dressed in a sports jacket and slacks.

    Otherwise, Gonzaga was barely mentioned in the two to 2.5 hour tribute to the man who not only launched the most successful program in the history of Gonzaga University, but represented just about everything that GU now claims as its legacy of commitment, hard work and success.

    Fitz' remains were brought into and out of the large auditorium by pall bearers Dick Davey, John Stockton, Ryan Fitzgerald and Jim Fitzgerald, to the sounds of Amazing Graze, as played by bagpipes and Indian drums.

    During his video presentation, moving renditions of Irish songs, including "Danny Boy," were played as giant screens took us all the way through pictures of an incredibly handsome, young, vibrant Fitz, right up to a still-handsome but clearly lived-in semblance of the same man we all grew to know and love.

    Among just a few of the attendees besides those mentioned, were Mark & Marcie Few, John Rillie (all the way from Australia); Jud Heathcoate, Bobo Brayton, Dan Monson, sr., Jack Stockton, members of the first high school team Fitz coached back in the '60's, and members of all the teams he coached at Gonzaga, and friends from all over the world.

    All in all it was a wonderful sendup. Hopefully, Section 116 & Hondo, JHoops & El Voce can add to this inadequate attempt to cover the event, for I saw them there.

    Suffice it to say from this perspective, we would all be very lucky, indeed to have as many friends as Fitz had, on hand to mourn his loss, and thank him for his life on this 27th day in Januray, 2010.

    Thanks Fitz. God Bless you. God bless your family. May you one day get the proper recognition you richly deserve from Gonzaga and if that doesn't happen, please rest in peace and rest assured that many, many Gonzaga fans know what all you did and will never, ever forget.

    RIP.

    Go TEAM Zags !
    Last edited by gamagin; 01-28-2010 at 03:23 AM.

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