Edward F. Fitzkee of Lancaster, PA passed peacefully on November 11, 2020 with his daughters at his side and is now reunited with his wife, Nancy. As a proud World War II veteran, the date of his passing, Veterans Day, is fitting.
He was preceded in death by his parents Rueben and Suzanna (Portner) Fitzkee and his sister Janet F. Neas. Nancy Swope Fitzkee, his beloved wife of nearly 70 years, predeceased him on April 16, 2020. He is survived by their children Dave (Cindy) Fitzkee, Diane Fitzkee, and Janice (Ray) Brown; six grandchildren: Kim, Joanne, Laura, Lindsey, Stephanie, and Stacy; and many great-grandchildren, nephews and nieces. He will be remembered lovingly by family and friends for his intelligence, sociability, service, incredible memory, keen wit, and humor.
Ed was born in his family home in Bainbridge, PA on December 15, 1923. After graduating from Bainbridge High School, he won a coveted appointment to Williamson Trade School in Media, PA. His time at Williamson not only taught him technical and academic skills, but also instilled self-discipline and a strong work ethic. Upon his graduation from Williamson in 1943 with an Associate’s Degree, he entered the Army. As an infantryman in the 26th (Yankee) Infantry Division in Europe, he was in heavy combat, including The Battle of the Bulge, from October 1944 through the end of the war in 1945. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1946 after serving occupation duty in Europe after World War II. Several of his many retirement travels took him to Europe to trace his combat trail.
Taking advantage of GI Bill educational benefits, he entered Elizabethtown College, where he lettered on the tennis team and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. He later earned a Master of Arts degree from University of Delaware.
While at Elizabethtown College, he met his future wife Nancy. They married in 1950. After living in Seaford, DE for four years, they moved to Kennett Square, PA where they lived and raised their three children until they returned to Lancaster County in 1995.
Ed dedicated his life to service. He was active in the Kennett Presbyterian Church, volunteering in various capacities over the years. He was elected to the Kennett Borough Town Council and served two four-year terms from 1974 to 1982, including as Council President from 1979-1982. His chosen career as a public school teacher spanned four decades, mostly at Kennett High School where he also served as Chair of the English department. He directed a number of student plays and musicals, was faculty advisor for the school yearbook, and coached the school’s boys’ and girls’ tennis teams. He was respected and well-liked among students. A reflection of the significant impact he had on students was the senior class’s choice to dedicate the 1970 school yearbook to him in a sonnet, citing his “counsel, energy, devotion.” He also very much appreciated the supportive faculty community there and developed friendships that lasted a lifetime.
Through some of those friendships, he gained the opportunity for summer employment at Camp Kennebec, a prestigious but rustic summer-long camp in Maine for boys aged 12-15. The work combined Ed’s love of tennis and working with young people. He was tennis counselor there from 1963 to 1975, much of that tenure as head of the tennis department. During that time he led a number of camp trips climbing Tumbledown Mountain and Mount Katahdin in Maine.
Ed loved language, conversation, and storytelling. He loved to solve “word jumbles” and crossword puzzles. With his sharp mind and memory, he could recall and relate details that added interest and humor when relating a story. In college, he studied both English and German. He taught English throughout his career and developed a high school course entitled “Man at War,” which combined his interest in English literature with his war experiences. Students in that class benefitted from his ability to engage through story telling. He also taught public speaking and excelled at it. Three weeks before he died, at his wife’s graveside service, he touched the hearts of those in attendance with his moving tribute to her.
Ed’s greatest passion was for his wife and family. He frequently gratefully expressed, “We not only love each other, we like each other.” Time spent together over many summers at the lakeside cabin in Maine created a wealth of cherished family memories. We are grateful for those memories, for his loving support, and for modeling a life of family orientation, integrity, excellence, and service.
A memorial service will be held at a later date to celebrate Ed’s life.