Elizabeth A. “Betty” Fitzpatrick
Elizabeth A. “Betty” (McGunnell) Fitzpatrick died November 5, 2021 at the home of her son Rob in Snug Harbor, RI after a long illness. She was 95.
Betty was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, January 25, 1926 to Robert P. and Helen A. (Mattox) McGunnell, the oldest of three sisters. Her ancestors
included Mohawk Joseph Brant. She grew up in Plainfield, N.J., and spent time in the small Jersey shore towns of Brielle and Manasquan. She was born
game and her curiosity, love of nature, and adventurous spirit ran strong her entire life. She graduated from Mount St. Mary’s Academy and the New
Jersey College for Women (Rutgers University). She taught music for three years in New Jersey and Maryland before moving alone to Aruba to teach
at Standard Oil’s American Colony. She met and married the love of her life, Frank Fitzpatrick, in Aruba where their son Rob was born.
Betty, Frank and their growing family moved to Connecticut in 1955 and lived in Bristol and Woodbury before settling in Southbury. Betty returned to school as a working mother of five and earned a Masters in Special Education from St. Joseph’s College, Hartford. She gave private piano lessons and taught music at Southbury Training School where she was a music therapy pioneer and created the first program for multiply handicapped clients too old to attend school.
In 1988, as a recent widow, Betty moved to Block Island. She embraced the community and was almost immediately sacrificed by the Democrat Town Committee as a candidate for Town Council. She worked briefly as a special ed teacher at the Block Island School, started Friends in Helping Service (FISH), was a regular at the Peace and Justice silent vigils, and generally lent a hand wherever needed. She was a voracious reader and a regular at the Island Free Library. A lucky group of students remember “Nana Betty’s” music program at the preschool. She loved her community and was loved in return. In her late 70s she became Music Director for her parish at St. Andrew Catholic Church on Block Island. The support of Father Joseph Protano, Peter Greenman and the choir, and her many friends in the congregation helped structure her final years. She retired at 94, blind, and with the use of only seven fingers, when the Covid pandemic suspended in-person church services. In 2020 Betty was delighted to receive the honor of being named the Oldest Citizen of Block Island and accepted the Boston Post Cane.
She was predeceased by her husband Frank Fitzpatrick and sisters Marion Stanley and Jane Davis. Survived by children Rob Fitzpatrick and his wife
Crystal Hauser of Block Island, Tony Fitzpatrick and his fiancé Rosemary E. Leheny of Bethlehem, Conn., Liz Fitzpatrick of Florence, Mass., Paul Fitzpatrick and his wife Lisa Fitzpatrick of Glastonbury, Conn., and Molly Fitzpatrick of Block Island; grandchildren Liam Fitzpatrick, Luke Fitzpatrick, Steve McGuirl, and John McGuirl; great grandchildren Caroline Fitzpatrick, Teddy Fitzpatrick, Max McGuirl Apperson, Caelyn McGuirl and Hailey McGuirl.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Andrew Catholic Church, Chapel Street, Block Island on Saturday, November 20, 2021 at 1 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the B.I. Fire and Rescue Department would be appreciated.