OLD CLASSMATES REMEMBER MICHAEL FITZPATRICK
Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, an Old Paradian whose distinguished career as a public servant in part involved close working ties with the late Senator John Button and the Hawke Government, has died in Canberra after a long illness.
News of Michael’s passing was conveyed by old classmates Peter Peyton and Peter Hanlon. Peter Peyton was Parade’s Athletics Champion in their final year of 1959, with Peter Hanlon the College Dux and Michael the Captain of the 1st XVIII.
Both Peters recalled Michael commencing studies at CBC East Melbourne in 1955, the first of five years at the “Old Bluestone Pile”, during which time he immersed himself in many and varied College activities.
“Mick attended Parade . . . after completing an intense year at St Colman’s, which was a feeder school to Parade, and with the main focus upon gaining a Junior Government Scholarship for government support during secondary school,” Peter Hanlon said.
“Mick remarked quite recently that St Colman’s had but one classroom, and one teacher (Br Bowler) over its thirty years of existence.”
In his final year at the College, Michael captained Treacy House and served as Sub-Editor of the “Bluestone Pile” student publication.
Of the Prefects’ Council of which Fitzpatrick and the likes of Frank Mount, McEntee and the late Barry Lauritz were members, the then College Principal Br. PC Naughtin, in his annual report for The Paradian, noted: “These formed a devoted group of energetic leaders of the school, and the Brothers are very grateful to them for their co-operation and tact in carrying out the onerous duties which fell to their lot”.
As 1st XVIII captain, Michael quite literally led from the front. He took out Best & Fairest honours for the Br. Maloney-coached team, which included Patrick Whitehouse, Vin Arthur, Bert Miles, Brendan Hackwill and the late Terry Gannon in its ranks.
The team lost three of its first four matches, but won seven of its last eight. It hammered CBC at Norwood Oval (96-15), then rounded out the season with victories over Assumption College Kilmore and St Pat’s Ballarat by 12 points and one point respectively.
Peter Hanlon was able to assist with Michael’s life beyond the Parade gates. He recalled that Michael progressed to the University of Melbourne, and completed a BSc “in the company of lifelong mates”. He majored in Mathematics and Statistics, and applied his statistics knowledge with his early employment with BHP in Newcastle.
“Mick kept his love of football well and truly alive, and contributed to fledgling teams in both New South Wales and the UK, where he completed a PhD at the London School of Economics, in the company of his wife Maureen,” said Peter.
“He joined the Bureau of Transport Economics in Canberra, and later the Department of Trade, working closely with (the Federal Minister for Industry and Commerce) Senator John Button. Later he took a prestigious position as Australian Scientific Liaison Officer (ASLO) in London which had been the exclusive domain of CSIRO and University circles. Meanwhile his family had grown to four, with two sons Jason and Gavin and two daughters Nicole and Catherine.”
Michael retired from the public service in 1995, and according to Peter Hanlon, threw his energies into extended family, and golf with a bunch of true golf tragics. “He organised golf tours for them to places like National, and Hilltops, Pambula and the Blue Mountains (and) he also found time for the Men’s Shed in Hall ACT,” Peter said.
Peter Hanlon said that in late 2014, Mick contracted cancer, “(but) showed the resoluteness of which his character abounded, finally succumbing in February 2017, and leaving us for his journey into eternal life”.
“Parade has lost a significant son who has enriched us with his presence,” he said.
Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, 75, was the much-loved husband of Maureen, and father and father-in-law of Jason and Sandra, Nicole and Jeff, Gavin and Donna, Cate and Paul. He was also a proud Pa to his 11 grandchildren.
His funeral service was held at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in O’Connor.
Peter Peyton, who said goodbye to his old friend last Friday week, has kindly availed the following eulogy delivered at Michael’s funeral.
Michael and I meet during school holidays in 1951 when he was holidaying in a country town in Victoria, Daylesford, with friends from near his home in a Melbourne suburb, Fairfield.
This meeting was a helpful coincidence as at the beginning of the 1952 school year I commenced school at St Anthony’s Alphington where Mick had been attending for six years. His was the only face that I knew and as it has always been he was most helpful to me.
We have remained in touch from that time.
Following primary school where Mick won a diocesan scholarship, he moved onto a Government Scholarship school in Fitzroy and was also successful in winning another scholarship that gave him free education in secondary school at Christian Brothers College Victoria Parade in East Melbourne.
Mick had five happy years at Parade College and in his final year he was appointed a prefect which acknowledged his leadership qualities and in that final year he also won a Commonwealth scholarship which gave him entry to Melbourne University.
Throughout his time at Parade he participated in just about anything that was available to him and each year his performance in studies was excellent and his performance in sport was also excellent.
In this final year he captained the 1st XVIII football team and was part of the college athletic team where both teams competed in the inter college competition which was quite fierce. Mick excelled in the football team and won the best and fairest cup.
In his spare time during the latter years in secondary college he would play golf whenever he got the chance. He would load himself up with his bag of sticks and take off on his bike to ride to the Yarra Bend golf course. He was always keen to challenge himself and on one occasion he set himself the target to play a round of golf as quickly as he could. Very early one morning he completed his bike ride to the course with just one stick, two balls and one golf tee. With no one on the course he had a clear run and run he did. One and a half hours later he’d completed the 18 holes and with a reasonable score.
While at Melbourne University, in the winter months, he played Australian Rules football with the Old Paradians football team which was performing well in the Amateur competition in Melbourne.
During the summer months he competed with the Old Paradians athletic team where he ran in middle distance events.
Our friendship continued over all this time as we both had enjoyed similar competitions. I was fortunate to be part of Maureen and Michael’s wedding group as best man in 1965.
God bless you Michael.