Philanthropist William H.G. FitzGerald

Monday, January 9, 2006

William H.G. FitzGerald, 96, a Washington-based private investor who was active in philanthropies and served as ambassador to Ireland from 1992 to 1993, died Jan. 5 at George Washington University Hospital. He had an aortic aneurysm.

Mr. FitzGerald, a District resident, was involved in housing projects in the Washington area starting around 1940 and later was chairman of North American Housing Corp., which made modular homes.

He also was a senior partner at the investment firm of Hornblower, Weeks, Hemphill & Noyes and vice chairman of Financial General Bankshares, a multistate bank holding company.

William Henry Gerald FitzGerald was a Boston native and a 1931 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, where he played baseball. After brief Navy service, he attended Harvard Law School before embarking on a business career.

He returned to the Navy during World War II. From 1958 to 1960, he was deputy director for management of the International Cooperation Administration, which became the U.S. Agency for International Development.

In 1987, he started high school scholarships for inner-city children in the Catholic archdiocese of Washington. At the Washington Tennis Foundation, he established a program to mentor inner-city children. The William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center is named in his honor.

He also was a benefactor of the Naval Academy, where he and his wife started a program to send midshipmen to Oxford University for postgraduate study.

He was a former vice chairman of the congressionally mandated African Development Foundation, trustee of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, chairman of the White House Preservation Fund and treasurer of the Atlantic Council of the United States, an international affairs group. He was the senior member of the Order of Malta, a lay religious order of the Catholic church.

He was a member of the University Club in Washington for 71 years.

In 1949, he founded the FitzGerald Cup, an annual squash tournament between Baltimore and Washington.

He was an active tennis player until age 93.

Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Annelise Petschek FitzGerald of Washington; two children, Desmond FitzGerald of Greenwich, Conn., and Anne F. Slichter of Champaign, Ill.; and five grandchildren.

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