Posted on: July 21, 2021
Joseph H. Fitzgerald, MD
March 28, 1931 – June 21, 2021
Miami, Florida – Soon after Joe was born in Birmingham, Alabama, his family moved to Miami before he reached his first birthday.
As a young man, his genial, focused, and hard-working nature was evident: president of this 8th-grade class, Harvard Book Award recipient, student council, and voted “Most Likely to Succeed” at Miami Senior High. Joe continued his education at Harvard University where he developed a love of history while following his father Willard’s path into the practice of Urology. He went on to medical school at the University of Virginia, graduating Class of 1957. Summers were often spent doing farm work, working as a handyman, and truck driving in the rural South.
It was off to the big city for three years of internship and residency at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City. In 1960 Joe enlisted in the US Army Medical Corps, serving for two years as a peacetime Battle Group Surgeon in Germany and completing 19 successful jumps as a paratrooper.
Joe returned to the Miami of his roots – a city he loved and grew up in. A 1962 urological residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital led to private practice and a distinguished medical career that served the South Florida community until his retirement in 2003.
It was not long after he returned to Miami that Joe met and married his wife, Monica, and started a loving family of three children – Karl, Lars and Anna – in Coconut Grove, around the corner from his childhood home where his mother Mary still lived.
Joe’s interests were never limited to medicine. As a member of the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, he became an avid sailor and out island cruiser over many summers with his family. His love of the ocean and navigation may have come from his interest in history and particularly in exploration and antique maps. A collector since he bought his first map in the service in Germany, his fascination (some might say obsession) with maps continued throughout his life. To share this love he proposed to the Miami historical society the idea of an annual map fair to educate people about maps and collecting, bring visitors to Miami, and generate income for the history museum. That idea was a success and the Miami International Map Fair was born in 1994 and continues to be a well-attended annual event to this day.
In whatever pursuit he was involved, “Dr. Joe” was a well-liked, humble and amiable friend and colleague to all. Always ready with a smile, a story, or a joke, he made the people he knew and his community all the better for having known him.
Dr. Fitzgerald is survived and loved by Monica, his wife of 54 years, his children Karl, Lars and Anna, their spouses, and four grandchildren. He will also be missed by sister-in-law Frances, nephew James, niece Julia, and all his extended family both in the US and in Sweden.