Catherine A. Fitzgerald, 89

Published 9:50 am Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Catherine A. Fitzgerald, 89, of Austin, Minn., died Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, at Primrose Retirement Community in Austin surrounded by her four loving daughters. She was born in St. Paul, Minn., the daughter of Lloyd and Elsie (Fick) Rill. Catherine was a graduate of Lincoln High School in Lake City, Minn. Prior to her marriage, Catherine worked in Lake City providing support for her mother and siblings. She married Robert Fitzgerald in September of 1950 at St. John’s Catholic Church in Winona. Catherine’s husband worked for Northwestern Bell Telephone Company, and during that time the family lived in the communities of Winona, Wabasha, Rochester, Jackson and Austin. The couple had lived in Austin since 1977.



Catherine was the embodiment of grace, strength, courage, kindness and love. She had a beautiful Christian spirit and quiet way of loving and guiding. Catherine was selflessly devoted to her husband and daughters in creating a home full of love and faith, with a strong sense of family. She was the family’s anchor and their sail. Catherine and Bob enjoyed travel, especially their many winters in Gulf Shores, Ala. Catherine’s interests included sewing, needlepoint, hardanger, knitting, basket making, gardening and bird watching. She was very active in Christ Episcopal Church and other faith communities, touching nearly every aspect of caring for the church.  Other volunteer activities included Cursillo, Meals on Wheels and the American Red Cross.

Catherine is survived by daughters, Patti (Michael) Ryan, of Castle Rock, Colo.; Mary (Stephen) Leach, of Jackson, Minn.; Carol Fitzgerald, of Rochester; and Erin O’Keefe and special friend, Kevin Erickson, of Champlin, Minn.; four grandchildren, Garrett (Lisa) Leach, Jillian Leach (special friend, Patrick Little), Corey (Becca) Ryan, and Cody Ryan; AFS granddaughter, Arrate Cerezo Echevarria and foster grandson, Collin Munoz; three great-grandchildren, Owen and Cormac Ryan and Emma Leach; her sister, Patricia Workman, of Ladue, Mo.; and her brother, William (Avis) Rill, of Port Orchard, Wash.; many loving nieces and nephews; and special friend and daughter in spirit, Esther Hellmich, Orange Beach, Ala. Catherine was preceded in death by her husband, Robert, and her sister, Jeanne Wise.

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The funeral service will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, at 11:30 a.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, 301 Third Ave. NW in Austin with the Rev. Catherine Lemons officiating. Following the service a time of fellowship with the family will take place in the undercroft of the church. Casket bearers will be Garrett Leach, Corey Ryan, Jillian Leach, Cody Ryan, Stephen Leach, Michael Ryan and Kevin Erickson. Burial will be 1 p.m. Thursday at St. Felix Cemetery in Wabasha with the Rev. Scott Monson officiating. Memorials are preferred in lieu of flowers to Union Gospel Mission (St. Paul), Mayo Clinic Cancer Research, or to St. Elizabeth’s Community Development Foundation (Wabasha). The Abbott Funeral Home of Wabasha is in charge of arrangements.