Dec. 20, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University Athletics Department lost a long-time family member as Lurlyn "Ms. Fitz" Fitzpatrick died on Wednesday of natural causes in Ochsner Hospital in Jefferson, La. She was 93 years old.
Fitzpatrick worked as the Green Wave's football secretary from 1964-2001 before serving as a special assistant to the athletics director and a member of the Tulane Athletics Fund from 2001 until her retirement in 2005. She was inducted into the Tulane Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993 - one of two non-athletes to receive the honor - and received the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Special Award in 2011.
"We are saddened by the news of the passing of Ms. Fitz," Tulane Director of Athletics Rick Dickson said. "Few programs have been influenced so much by the caring and personal touch shown the thousands of young student-athletes that was a hallmark during her tenure at Tulane. Because of her, and the Ms. Fitz Endowment established by former student-athletes in her honor, that legacy will live on. Everyone who had the pleasure of knowing Ms. Fitz is a better person today as a result. I speak for many in saying we will miss her."
Fitzpatrick began her Tulane career in September 1964 when she provided administrative assistance to then-head coach Tommy O'Boyle. Perhaps more important than daily secretarial duties, Fitzpatrick was a motherly figure to the Green Wave football players - many of which were away from home for the first time and needed some guidance in adjusting to college life.
In a time before the NCAA placed strict regulations on providing academic assistance, Fitzpatrick often assisted the Tulane student-athletes with one-on-one help. In addition, she was often simply someone the players could talk to about their problems on and off the field.
That dedication was recognized by former Tulane lettermen in 2008 when Fitzpatrick was the namesake of the Ms. Fitz Football Endowment Fund. The fund was established by the players who refer to themselves as "Ms. Fitz' Boys."
"I used to tell my friends that my mother was one of the few people I knew who woke up every morning and said, `Oh goodie, I'm going to work today,'" Fitzpatrick's eldest daughter Lynn Mann said. "She truly bled blue and green. It was the perfect job for her because she was a terrific secretary and she loved sports.
"In our family, my dad didn't really care so much about it but my mother did. She watched every variety of sports on TV. When my brother was in high school, she went to all of the basketball games. People assumed she had a child on the team, but she didn't. She just went because she loved it so much."
The former Lurlyn Guyol, Fitzpatrick graduated from nearby Holy Name High in 1935. After marrying the late Lloyd Fitzpatrick, she initially inquired about a job at Tulane after her children began attending school. Armed with the idea or getting a game-day job or perhaps working in the bookstore, Fitzpatrick was issued a secretarial test and was hired for her long-time position after typing at a rate of 90 words per minute.
She took the job on a full-time basis in 1966 and continued to do so until 1997. While Fitzpatrick returned to part-time duty, her stint at Tulane did not end for another eight years.
"During my time with Tulane football, I acted as a surrogate mother to so many of the guys," Fitzpatrick said in 2008 following the announcement of the endowment fund. "I have so many wonderful memories and I would not have replaced my time there for anything in the world."
Fitzpatrick is survived by three children, seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Her memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 22, at Holy Name of Jesus Church in New Orleans (6367 St. Charles Avenue) with visitation beginning at 11:30 a.m. and the funeral slated for 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be sent to the Ms. Fitz Football Endowment Fund (Click Here To Donate) or to Holy Name of Jesus Church.