Maurice Patrick Fitzgerald passed away on April 23, 2020, due to complications from the COVID-19 virus. He was 87.
Born to Maurice and Hester (Brennan) Fitzgerald, “Fitzy” grew up in the South End of Boston with his four sisters. He attended Boston English High School before enlisting in the US Marine Corps when he was seventeen, at the outset of the Korean War.
As part of the 1st Marine Infantry Division in Korea, he landed at Inchon under General Douglas MacArthur and fought in the epic winter battle at the Chosin Reservoir. He distinguished himself in combat as a squad leader, and was awarded a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, a United Nations Service Medal, and a Korean Service Medal with 2 Stars. He received a Presidential Unit Citation recognizing his “extraordinary heroism…battling desperately, night and day, in the face of almost insurmountable odds…against a vastly outnumbering enemy.”
Though he remained intensely proud of his service in the Marine Corps and of his distinction as one of the "Chosin Few," the experience left him deeply suspicious of political motives for military action, and it would define him for life, politically and philosophically. He became a vocal liberal, largely motivated by the institutionalized racism and class exploitation he witnessed while in the service. He could often be heard saying, “There were no rich kids in my foxhole.”
After returning from Korea, he joined the I.O.U.E. Local #4, working as an operating engineer, and proudly carried his union card for sixty years. He married Catherine Koch and together they raised six children in Dorchester.
In many ways, his life epitomized the American story, growing up in his beloved South End during the Great Depression, serving his country, and then striving to improve the circumstances of his family. He valued education above all, and made certain that all of his children went to college.
He is remembered across a broad social spectrum of friends and acquaintances as a truly larger than life character: outspoken and articulate, gregarious and fiercely loyal, as quick-tempered as he was quick-witted.
Preceded in death by his wife, Catherine, and his sisters Betty and Margaret, Maurice is survived by his six children: Daniel, Timothy, Paul, Kathleen, Mary and Diane, his long-time companion, Susan McDonald, and his two sisters, Anne Caciola and Mary Hayes, and eleven grandchildren and step-grandchildren.
Due to the pandemic, a celebration of Maurice’s life will be announced when circumstances permit. Donations in his name may be made to The Home for Little Wanderers c/o Harrington House, 664 Dorchester Avenue, S. Boston 02127.
Arrangements by Leighton-MacKinnon Funeral Home, 4 West Washington St., Hanson, MA. To write an online condolence visit www.mackinnonfuneralhomes.com
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