Nita L. Fitzgerald, 83

Social worker, OSS agent

February 20, 2007

Nita L. Fitzgerald, a retired social worker who served in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, died of a stroke Saturday at her Rock Hall home. She was 83.

The former Nita Lussier was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta, the daughter of a World War I flying ace, and settled with her family in Rock Hall in 1931.

A 1940 graduate of Rock Hall High School, she left her studies at the University of Maryland to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1942.

She was an enemy submarine spotter at Vancouver when she resigned in 1943 and joined the OSS. She served in England and France with X-2, a counterespionage unit.

"She and John P. Marquand Jr., son of the well-known writer, accepted the surrender of 20 Nazi soldiers who came out of a cellar near Bordeaux," said a sister, Betty Lussier of Pacific Palisades, Calif., also an OSS veteran. "She later said that she and Marquand had no idea how to operate the machine gun mounted on the back of their jeep."

Mrs. Fitzgerald witnessed the liberation of Paris in 1944.

"She said it was such an exhilarating time and recalled how the Americans were entertained and given food and champagne because they were heroes," said a son, William T. Fitzgerald Jr. of Cockeysville.

While in Paris, she met and fell in love with a young OSS lieutenant, William Thomas Fitzgerald, whom she married in 1947. "For years ... Nita carried a little flask of perfume they had purchased together in Paris," Miss Lussier said.

After the war, the couple lived in Baltimore, where Mr. Fitzgerald became an executive with Baltimore Transfer Co. They moved to Westminster in 1973, and he became a master in the juvenile court in Carroll County.

While her youngest son was in high school, Mrs. Fitzgerald returned to her own studies and received a bachelor's degree in social work in 1973 from the University of Indiana. She earned a master's in psychiatric social work from the University of Maryland School of Social Work in 1976, and worked for 20 years at what is now the state's Springfield Hospital Center.

After her husband's death in 1997, she returned to Rock Hall. She was a member there of the Rock Hall Garden Club and American Legion.

Mrs. Fitzgerald was a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Chestertown, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Also surviving are another son, Brian W. Fitzgerald of Middleburg, Va.; a daughter, Diane Fitzgerald-Painter of Rock Hall; two other sisters, Jane Strong of Rock Hall and Suzanne Lussier Jones of Parsonsburg; and five grandchildren.

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