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Age 77, of Duluth, Minnesota, died on November 20, 2022, surrounded by love. The firstborn child of Persis and Joseph Fitzpatrick, he was devoted to his three younger brothers, leading them through escapades in North Oaks, Minnesota. With an enthusiasm for the natural world, he also led youth canoe camps (and forged lifelong friendship) as a young man in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. He received a BA in English (’67) from Harvard College, before beginning his teaching career at Wilmington Friends School in Delaware where he met and married Pamela Parker. They moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina when he joined the faculty at Carolina Friends School and it was there that their daughter, Courtney, was born, to whom he was a loving father. He also taught at Chewning Junior High School (Durham, NC), Marshall School (Duluth, MN), and Mesabi Range College (Virginia, MN), and held masters degrees from the Bread Loaf School of English and the University of Minnesota Duluth. On each stop he displayed a preternatural knack for forming enduring friendships. Driven by an unquenchable thirst for renewal, he arrived at each next enterprise with the heart of a poet. His early passions for baseball, literature, black labs, theater, and folk music never died, but it wasn’t until 1997 that he rekindled an early, backyard relationship with golf clubs and, through more friendship, fell in love with the game. During this time, he doubled down on his calling as a writer and in 2008 published his first book, A Beautiful Friendship: The Joy of Chasing Bogey Golf. His second book, Hawks on High: Everyday Miracles in a Hawk Ridge Season, was published in 2019. He never stopped believing in the redemptive power of family and stepped into his most important role as “Bomma Phil” in 2015 when his grandson was born. He affected many lives and is survived by his daughter, Courtney Fitzpatrick (Sam Stephenson); former wife Pamela Fitzpatrick; grandson Parker Fitzpatrick Stephenson; brothers Jim, John (Molly), and Charlie Fitzpatrick; niece/nephews John, Sarah, and Dylan, a beloved extended family, and an exceptional network of friends and neighbors. The family wishes to express profound gratitude to everyone involved in the last year of Phil’s life, especially the community at Bayshore Residence and Rehab for their unique combination of care, compassion, and wisdom. A memorial service will be announced in the spring. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory or Zeitgeist in Duluth.
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