The North Star

Florence Fitzgerald

Blue Spevak, Back page Editor

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In the heart of Florence, Omaha sits an inconspicuous house framed with spruce trees and a well-groomed yard. The flower beds are always lined with daffodils, petunias, ferns, and everything in between. No passerby would spare the house a glance – except to look at the foliage – and absolutely nobody would be able to guess that one of the oldest residents of Omaha lives there.

Florence Fitzgerald, 103, is among the oldest living residents of Omaha. Born on a farm in Shubert, Nebraska in 1914, Fitzgerald lived with her parents and five sisters: Martin, Mary, Lillian, Kay, Rachel, Lucille, and Margaret respectively; she is the last living member of the group.

 

Fitzgerald cooks nearly all of her own meals every single day, typically consisting of sandwiches, roasts, and most commonly potatoes. Fitzgerald has cooked numerous meals for visiting family members in groups of as few as two or as many as twenty.

 

Fitzgerald keeps her built-in buffet decorated with framed pictures of family and friends and various greeting cards she has received over the years. Multiple generations of family and friends have been put on display on this place of honor.

 

Framed Japanese copper etchings hang on either side of a wooden clock over Fitzgerald’s mantle. During World War 2 when she was 28, Fitzgerald worked in Washington, D.C. as a Japanese decoder, inspiring her to later visit Japan; Fitzgerald witnessed the creation of these works in the basement of a hotel during that visit.

 

The walls of Fitzgerald’s dining room are lined with plates from over a span of roughly twenty years. The plates have always been a staple decoration in Fitzgerald’s house.

 

A tangled rosary sits next to Fitzgerald’s favorite rocking chair across from the TV in her living room. Fitzgerald, a lifelong devout Catholic, attended Sacred Heart Catholic High School on 22nd and Binney street in Omaha after leaving her hometown for her father’s new job in the stockyards.

 

Crucifixes – images of Jesus on the cross – hang from every doorway in Fitzgerald’s house. It has long been a family tradition to place a cross or crucifix above the doorways of one’s house in Fitzgerald’s family.

 

Fitzgerald and her great-great niece (that’s me!) pose for a picture in Fitzgerald’s living room. Fitzgerald has been known to keep her freezer stocked with ice cream just for the younger members of her family – she could never resist giving them a sweet treat when they visited.

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Florence Fitzgerald