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Russell L. Fitzgerald

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Russell Lester Fitzgerald, 105, passed away on Thursday, December 30, 2021, with family by his side.

Russ was born on September 19, 1916, in Dilworth, MN, to Matthew and Theresa (Braatz) Fitzgerald. He grew up with a father who loved fishing, hunting and dogs. Roaming the woods and lake country as a boy led him to be a lifelong outdoorsman and conservationist.

Missing some school due to illness, he graduated from Dilworth High School in 1936 and soon after was employed by the Northern Pacific Railroad as a round house laborer (Hostler), servicing steam locomotive engines. He retired from the Burlington Northern Railway in 1978.

Russ was a WWII Veteran. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 and served in the China-Burma-India theater. He went over the Burma Road and was in armaments in the 86th Air Drome Squadron in China. Through the course of deployment and return, he traveled around the world, passing through the Suez Canal and past the Statue of Liberty before mustering out.

Russell married Catherine McManus on October 27, 1951 and raised five children. Their marriage lasted 67 years and was filled with time spent with friends and family, travels to Ireland and Hawaii and long summers on Big Cormorant Lake. The Fitzgerald children are blessed to have the bond they built with him as young children that extended throughout their lives.

An avid sports fan, he saw the Minnesota Golden Gophers win six National Championships; he couldn’t quite stay long enough for the Vikings to win a Super Bowl. He was community minded and involved in many organizations including Elks, American Legion, Dilworth Hook and Bullet, Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society, The Nature Conservancy, St. Elizabeth’s Church, and Boy Scouts. He was very proud that his yard in Dilworth had become a staging area for the fall migration of Monarch butterflies.

Russell is preceded in death by his wife Catherine, infant daughter Kathleen Mary, sister Lila, and brothers Harvey and Clifford. Russell is survived by his five children, Maura (Minneapolis), Shannon (Seattle, WA), Patrick (Big Cormorant Lake), Erin (Tempe, AZ), and Kerry (Dilworth).

The family sincerely thanks the Veterans Administration Hospital in Fargo ND for the many years of quality care provided to Russ, and to the VA and Sanford Health Homecare for helping him to live in his own home through many years of physical decline. We also sincerely thank Ecumen-Emmanuel Nursing Home in Detroit Lakes for the care they gave our father through his final year.

If you wish to memorialize Russ Fitzgerald, donations can be made to the Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society online at https:/www.prairiechickens.org/donate or by mail to MPCS c/o Travis Issendorf, 23983 County Road 113, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501. Another simple but important way to memorialize a life well lived would be to plant milkweeds this spring for Monarch Butterfly conservation.

Services will be held at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church in Dilworth. There will be a wake from 5 to 7:30 (prayer service at 7:00 pm), Tuesday, January 11. The Funeral Mass will be held at 2:00 PM on Wednesday January 12.

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The family of Russ Fitzgerald gratefully acknowledge your presence and kind expressions of sympathy. We ask that all guests wear a mask while in attendance at either service . You are invited to join them for refreshments and fellowship immediately following the funeral service. A celebration of life and interment will take place later this spring.

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