Paul FitzGerald, 81, Navy officer

October 23, 2005

Paul Francis FitzGerald, a retired Navy lieutenant commander and avid yachtsman, died of complications from pneumonia Thursday at St. Joseph Medical Center. He died on his 81st birthday.

Commander FitzGerald, a resident of Towson, was born and raised in Chicopee, Mass., and graduated from Chicopee High School in 1941. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1947.

After graduation he completed a three-year tour of duty on the aircraft carrier USS Antietam. When his tour ended he taught an engineering course for one year at the Naval Academy. He received a master's degree in naval architecture and marine engineering in 1953 from Webb Institute in Glen Cove, N.Y.

He retired from the Navy in 1966.

While in the Navy, he developed a passion for sailing.

"He just had sailing in his blood," said his wife of 55 years, the former Martha Williamson. "He just had great respect for the wind and the seas."

In 1963 he took part in a 21-day trans-Atlantic trip from Newport, R.I., to Plymouth, England, aboard a friend's yacht. Three years later, he took a second trip on the yacht, from Bermuda to Copenhagen, Denmark. In 1976, he bought his own sailboat, aboard which he sailed the Chesapeake Bay.

After retiring from the Navy, he worked with his brother-in-law as a manufacturer's representative for the John M. Sullivan Co., a Pennsylvania-based firm that represents small companies that don't have a sales force. He retired from the company in 1996.

He was a member for more than three decades of the Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Towson, where a funeral Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday.

In addition to his wife, survivors include four sons, Vincent FitzGerald of Bel Air, Patrick FitzGerald of Baltimore, Robert FitzGerald of Big Timber, Mont., and William FitzGerald of Towson; and seven grandchildren.

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