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CELEBRATING IRISH HERITAGE.

Byline: ANA PACHECO

Today, 78-year-old Terry Fitzsimmons is celebrating his 60th high-school reunion with thousands of people as he marches in New York's 248th annual St. Patrick's St. Patrick's or Saint Patrick's may refer to:
  • Saint Patrick's Day, named after the saint
  • St. Patrick's Purgatory, an ancient pilgrimage in Lough Derg, County Donegal, Ireland
 Day parade. As a student at Power Memorial Academy in the 1940s, Fitzsimmons regularly took part in the event, the oldest consecutive parade in the U.S., which honors one of the most popular saints in the Catholic Church.

Fitzsimmons was born at Fitch Sanitarium sanitarium /san·i·tar·i·um/ (-tar´e-um) an institution for the promotion of health.

san·i·tar·i·um
n.
See sanatorium.
 in the Bronx in 1930. He was the youngest, and the only one of the 11 children of Bridget and Terance Fitzsimmons to be born in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . Terry Fitzsimmons' father immigrated to New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
 in 1928 with his three eldest children. His mother arrived the following year with the rest of the children.

Soon after moving to New York, Terance Fitzsimmons contracted tuberculosis and was given six months to live, but managed to survive until 1939. The Fitzsimmonses had immigrated to the United States from County Cavan County Cavan (Contae an Chabháin in Irish) is a county in the Republic of Ireland. Location
It is one of three counties situated in the province of Ulster without being part of Northern Ireland.
, Ireland, 60 miles from Dublin. Their family was part of the Lurgan Parish. According to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 Terry Fitzsimmons, it is through the local church parish that Irish families can identify their genealogy.

Terry Fitzsimmons' path as an immigrant in the United States was similar to that of many who attended Power Memorial Academy. The school was founded in 1909 by Monsignor Power of the All Saints Parish in New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City

City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S.
 as an all-boys school of primarily Irish immigrants. Formerly called All Hallows, the school began on W. 124th Street in Manhattan and later moved to 164th Street and Walton Avenue, when the school was renamed Power Memorial Academy after Monsignor Power, who died in 1926. In 1938, the school moved again to accommodate its growing enrollment, to W. 61st Street, where it remained until 1984, when it closed for financial reasons.

Power Memorial Academy's legacy included a basketball program that became nationally recognized through the 1960s. In 1963, it was named the High School Team of the Century by the National Sports Writers Association, the year Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, led the team to the New York City High School Athletic Association championship.

Although Fitzsimmons never participated in sports at Power Memorial Academy, he was active in the school's annual involvement in the St. Patrick's Day parade. All of the students at Power Memorial marched in what has become the largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the world. More than 150,000 marchers take part as close to 2 million spectators line the streets of Manhattan.

A tragic memory for Fitzsimmons is an event that occurred March 15, 1948, as the school band was practicing for the parade. "A deranged de·range  
tr.v. de·ranged, de·rang·ing, de·rang·es
1. To disturb the order or arrangement of.

2. To upset the normal condition or functioning of.

3. To disturb mentally; make insane.
 man by the name of Marko L. Markovich came by with a gun and started shooting," recalls Fitzsimmons. "He killed one student, Thomas Brady, and wounded six others. To this day, no one knows why he did it. The school band did march in the parade that year, but in respect for the tragedy, no music was played and our school flag and drums were draped drape  
v. draped, drap·ing, drapes

v.tr.
1. To cover, dress, or hang with or as if with cloth in loose folds: draped the coffin with a flag; a robe that draped her figure.
 in black."

That event was big news for the city, with The New York Times running a front-page story on the incident. Both President Harry S. Truman For other persons named Harry Truman, see Harry Truman (disambiguation).
Harry S. Truman (May 8 1884 – December 26 1972) was the thirty-third President of the United States (1945–1953); as vice president, he succeeded to the office upon the death of Franklin D.
 and New York's governor, Thomas E. Dewey Thomas Edmund Dewey (March 24, 1902 – March 16, 1971) was the Governor of New York (1943-1955) and the unsuccessful Republican candidate for the U.S. Presidency in 1944 and 1948. , attended the parade in memoriam that year.

Fitzsimmons retired to Santa Fe in 1992 after a successful real-estate career in San Diego. He had moved from New York to California at the age of 45 after working for many years at Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. An avid hiker, he was drawn to New Mexico's terrain. In addition to participating in many outdoor activities, Fitzsimmons has stayed active, working as the president of the local chapter of AARP AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan national organization dedicated to "enriching the experience of aging"; membership is open to people age 50 or older. Founded in 1958 by Ethel Percy Andrus as American Association of Retired Persons, AARP now has over 30 million  from 1998 to 2000 as well as with other nonprofit organizations in Santa Fe.

After marching in today's St. Patrick's Day parade, Fitzsimmons plans to visit his family's grave site at the Old Calvary Cemetery in Woodside, Queens. This year marks the 40th anniversary of his mother's death. As he says, "It was my mother who started the tradition of taking me to the St. Patrick's Day parade when I was 6 years old."

Ana Pacheco is the founder and publisher of La Herencia, a culture and history magazine (www.herencia.com, 505-474-2800). Her weekly tribute to our community elders appears every Tuesday.
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Title Annotation:Local News
Publication:The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM)
Date:Mar 17, 2009
Words:725
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