OGDENSBURG – William F. Fitzgibbons, a long-time Sussex County attorney and former Assistant Sussex County Prosecutor, died on Friday, June 7, 2019, at Newton Memorial Hospital after a brief stay in the hospital. He was 72.
Bill was a life-long resident of Ogdensburg and was a true lover of life in Sussex County and the people who live here. He was keenly interested in his heritage and his family’s long relationships with the towns, people and institutions that made Sussex County his home.
Bill dedicated his life to making sure that the people of Sussex County could receive legal representation -- whether they could pay for it or not. He was a great advocate of “justice for all” and believed that every person, whatever their job or class standing might have been, deserved fair treatment under the law and representation of their interests.
After graduating from Rev. George Brown Elementary School, Bill was in one of the first graduating classes of Pope John XXIII Regional High School (then known as Our Lady of the Lake). He scored the first touchdown in school football history – and would be quick to remind all that there weren’t many touchdowns scored at all in the school’s first few years! He maintained a love of Pope John High School and attended football games for the rest of his life.
Bill graduated from King’s College in Wilkes Barre, PA in 1969 and law school at the University of Toledo in Ohio – where he earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1972. He was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1972 and, later, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
In 1972, Bill joined Donald L. Kovach and created the Franklin-based law firm of Kovach & Fitzgibbons – which later was re-named Kovach, Fitzgibbons & Goovaerts when third partner, Erwin Goovaerts, joined the firm. Mr. Goovaerts passed away in 2002.
Later in his career, Bill also partnered with numerous other Sussex County attorneys -- giving many of them their first job and helping them develop their careers. He always spoke very proudly when he saw one of his former associates go on to success and acclaim in their lives and professions.
He also specialized in Municipal and land-use law and served as town attorneys through the years for multiple communities, including Vernon, Ogdensburg and Sussex and also both the Franklin and Ogdensburg Boards of Education.
For more than a decade, Bill was appointed by the Sussex County Freeholder Board to represent dozens of Sussex County’s residents who had been involuntarily admitted to state mental health facilities – many of whom would have otherwise received no legal representation.
He also served as the lead attorney for the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority for more than 15 years. In that role, he helped establish the Authority as one of the state’s leading providers of environmentally sound recycling and waste management services.
From 2004 through 2009, Bill served as the First Assistant Sussex County Prosecutor.
He was predeceased by his parents, Loretta (Farrell) and Joseph P. Fitzgibbons, Sr., and his brother, Joseph Jr. He is survived by his beloved wife, Margaret “Peggy” Fitzgibbons, and his daughters – Anna White and her husband, Thomas, of Charlotte, VT and JoEllen Mulhern and her husband, Chris, of Venice, CA. He is also survived by his step-children -- John Lee and his wife, Katie, of Hanover, NH; and Mary Devlin and her husband, Bill, of Bridgewater, MA.
“Bop” (as the younger generation knew him) is also survived by his beloved grandchildren – Finn, Francesca, Luca, Maggie, Maeve, Meggie and Ellie. He is also survived by his brother, Patrick, and his wife, Mary; and his sister Annette, all of Ogdensburg, and many nieces and nephews and their children and spouses.
Bill was very devoted to his entire extended family and his large network of friends and associates around the county and state. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.
Friends and family are invited to say goodbye to Bill at a wake at F. John Ramsey Funeral Home, One Main Street, Franklin, NJ 07416, on Wednesday, June 12, from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Thomas of Aquin Church in Ogdensburg on Thursday, June 13, at 11 a.m., with internment to follow in the church cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations instead be made to the Pope John XXIII Angel Fund. Funeral arrangements entrusted to F. John Ramsey Funeral Home in Franklin, NJ. Please see www.fjohnramseyfuneralhome.com for condolences and directions.