Return to Headlines

Board Chairman Don Fitzgerald Looks Forward to Resuming Board Duties after Surgery

Board of Education Chairman Don Fitzgerald says he looks forward to continuing to serve the students and families of Wicomico County Public Schools after a period of absence to recover from throat surgery he will have later this summer.

Mr. Fitzgerald chaired the July 9 monthly meeting of the Board of Education, and closed out the meeting with his comments during Board Member Reports. He said, in part: “As we go forward, the next few months I’m going to be out of the loop. Gene (Board Vice Chairman N. Eugene Malone Jr.) is going to be running the show, but I’ll be watching. I won’t be able to talk for about three months, but in my heart (I know) these students are taken care of by the group sitting up here, and with the leadership of Dr. Hanlin.”

A Wicomico native and 1964 graduate of Wicomico High School, Mr. Fitzgerald is a Vietnam Army veteran who has dealt with health issues for years as a result of exposure to Agent Orange. Due to scar tissue from 11 operations over the years, including one in February of this year, he now has difficulty swallowing. The 8-hour operation will fix that issue and remove his voicebox, replacing it with a prosthesis. Following the operation he will take approximately three months to recover and do speech therapy.

“I’ve been very fortunate” despite the health issues, he says, “and I look forward to continuing to serve and speak out on behalf of students, families and staff.”

Mr. Fitzgerald has served on the Board of Education since 2009 and was elected to an at large seat in November 2018.

Mr. Fitzgerald plans to follow Board of Education meetings on livestream or TV. He may share thoughts and questions by cell phone. He might even show up in the Board auditorium on Long Avenue sooner than anyone expects. “I’m not one to sit home, so if I feel like it, I’ll come.”

He’ll have a great support team for his recovery: wife Sharon, a nurse; daughter Jennifer Fitzgerald, who has a doctorate in nursing and is a neonatal nurse practitioner at University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore, and daughter Kim Fitzgerald, who serves James M. Bennett High as a Spanish teacher, head field hockey coach, and head softball coach, with “Papa Fitz” in the dugout as an assistant coach since 2003.

Having played ball himself growing up, he has enjoyed giving back as a baseball and softball coach and volunteer since about 1974, mostly through the Salisbury Optimist Club, which he joined in 1981. He is also active with Grace United Methodist Church, where he helps each winter with the emergency shelter for men.