The Fitzpatrick Family

Laura, John, Ed, Matthew Smith and Jennifer Fitzpatrick

Featured in Maroon & White magazine, Fall 2013

Things were very different when Saint Mary’s alumnus Ed Fitzpatrick BA served as class valedictorian in 1953. “There were only 25 of us in my graduating class,” says Ed. “Two years ago there were more than 900 at my granddaughter’s convocation.”

The second in his family to attend Saint Mary’s, Ed followed an older brother, Jack, who enrolled in the late 1930’s as a member of the Canadian Officers Training Core. During a distinguished 30-year career with the Nova Scotia Commission on Drug Dependency, Ed found time to serve on the Saint Mary’s Alumni Association Board (1977 to 1979) and as a member of the University’s Board of Governors (1981 to 1984). A loyal Santamarian, he addressed his graduating class at their 25th and 50th anniversaries. Ed and his wife Pauline raised their children to love Saint Mary’s. “We learned to skate at Saint Mary’s and attended the hockey and football games,” says Ed’s son John Fitzpatrick, Q.C., Chair of Saint Mary’s Board of Governors.

When it came time for university, John and three of his siblings opted for their father’s alma mater. “No one told us to go to Saint Mary’s,” says John, “but I do recall some subtle pressure.”
John (BA’81), his sister Anne Marie (BA’78; BEd’80), and two brothers, Joe (BComm’83) and Andrew (BComm’88) graduated from Saint Mary’s. Another sister, Mary Elizabeth, went to a ‘different university’, but Ed says “things worked out” because her son, Matthew Smith, is now in his fourth year at the Sobey School of Business.

References from professors Ed McBride and Dr. Mike Larsen paved the way for John to attend law school. Now a Senior Partner at Boyne Clarke, John is the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Canadian Bar Association’s Community Service Award. These tributes recognize a commitment to his community that includes 18 years as a member of Saint Mary’s Board of Governors.

“That’s an unusually long time to be on the same board,” notes John “I’m either a very slow learner or someone who really enjoys what he does.” The truth is that John has many good reasons to devote his time to University governance.

“I’m honoured to serve with so many dedicated Board volunteers,” he says, “and it’s hugely satisfying to follow the successes of the many students who serve with us.”

As well, John credits Saint Mary’s with inspiring his daughters’ success. “Laura and Jennifer will be the first to tell you how much they’ve benefited from small classes, close relationships
with professors, and opportunities for research.” “Saint Mary’s was the perfect fit for me,” says second year medical student Laura Fitzpatrick (BSc’12). “It gave me endless opportunities for research and other meaningful involvement.”

While at Saint Mary’s, Laura was an active member of Saint Mary’s SIFE team (now ENACTUS) and Saint Mary’s Habitat for Humanity Society. She also studied in China and travelled to Northern Ireland as part of the Peaceful Schools Program. Laura’s younger sister Jennifer, now in her third year of a Bachelor of Arts, has also found her niche at Saint Mary’s. Last year, as an ENACTUS member, Jennifer co-managed an online survey aimed at reducing campus energy consumption. This year she serves as ENACTUS’chief human resources officer. As a tribute to John’s mother, who passed away in 2007, the Fitzpatricks established a prize for students, like Ed, who have the honour of addressing their peers at convocation.

“Who knows,” says John, “some day one of these students could well be our son Andrew.”

With high school graduation approaching, Andrew will soon have to choose a school for next fall. Is there any subtle pressure to attend Saint Mary’s?

“There is some pressure,” says Andrew, smiling, “but it’s not exactly subtle.”