Michael Brian Fitzgerald '61 was born on November 5, 1939, in Glen Cove, Long Island. He was a son of Thomas Joseph Fitzgerald, a highly regarded and widely respected teacher and director of athletics in Westbury, Long Island, schools, and the former Katherine Rose Burke, a homemaker and to some the source of Mike's special traits of sharp insight, quick wit, and intellectual resilience.
Mike grew up in Westbury and was graduated from Westbury High School in 1957. He entered Hamilton in the fall of that year and began the path that led to graduating with his class in l961 as a history major and winner of the Putnam Prize. To the end of his life he would often repeat that Professor David M. Ellis had left his mark on him and was responsible for his devouring of books on American history. Relishing the written and spoken word, he plunged into the world of literature and acting opportunities that Hamilton offered. He joined Tau Kappa Epsilon and quickly showed that he had few peers in the fine art of bracing conversation and raucous storytelling. Mike loved a good debate, even intemperate discussions, on history, politics, literature, sports, and life in general. He never tried to replicate a high school interest in organized athletics while at Hamilton, but instead demonstrated the foundations of what would become a deep well of sports knowledge and strategy, particularly baseball. Mike took to heart the motto "Know Thyself" and sought to adhere to it for the rest of his life.
Mike served in the U.S. Army from 1963 until 1965, and was discharged in California, where he settled in Los Angeles and became a social worker. Returning to the East Coast, he earned his master's in education from Hofstra University in 1968 and then began teaching 7th and 8th grades in middle school in his hometown of Westbury. In love with teaching but frustrated by a difficult and inflexible school administration he moved to Arlington, VA. There he served in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, working on national security affairs with a particular emphasis on China and East Asia. Returning to private life, he was involved in international trade consulting and business development before moving on to join Giant Foods. After years in Northern Virginia he accepted Giant's request to move to Southern New Jersey to help with their expansion into that new market. Mike never married but took a deep interest in the lives of his nephews, nieces, and children of Hamilton classmates. He taught, counseled, and supported their ambitions and dreams. And it was Mike who introduced them to his beloved Baltimore Orioles at old Memorial Stadium and took them to their first Washington Redskins game.
Mike lived in Lindenwold, NJ, until he moved to Cape May when he retired from Giant in 2004. He looked forward to a life of books, bracing sea air, and carrying on with an abiding interest in thoroughbred racing. That interest stemmed from his working as a youth with horses at the famed polo stables in the Westbury area.
Unfortunately, it was then that he began his multi-year struggle with metastatic melanoma. Mike had the good fortune to happen on an exceptional oncologist in the Cape May area, and together they worked the frontiers of treatment. Mike saw every additional year as another opportunity to read a shelf of books, explore the early years of American history, visit Ireland and navigate its contemporary literature, enjoy baseball and Big East/ACC basketball, constantly sharpen his wit, and make every conversation a joy to be in and pleasure to remember.
Mike became a medical phenomenon and survived beyond all professional expectation. He spent the last few years in Olney, MD, with his sister Pat Havener and nephew Michael Havener. As they had from the onset of his illness, they would resolutely meet every day as an opportunity for more books, more sports, trips to family in Ohio, New York, and Ireland, and beating the odds on the next race.
Mike passed away on November 14, 2008. He is survived by seven siblings, a large number of nephews and nieces, and many friends who relished knowing a man who loved good books, good horses, and a well-executed double play.
— Werner W. Brandt '60
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Marsette Arthur Vona, Jr. '64, who practiced dentistry in his hometown of Clinton, NY, for 38 years, was born in nearby Utica on August 15, 1942. The son of Marsette A., proprietor of the Clinton Shoe Store, and Josephine Peters Vona, he came up the Hill from his home on South Park Row following his graduation in 1960 from Clinton Central High School. Highly motivated and with a deep-rooted desire to become a dentist, he majored in biology. A member of Delta Kappa Epsilon, he was graduated in 1964.
With the warm recommendation of Dean Winton Tolles and the College's pre-dental committee, "Marty" Vona was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. After receiving his D.M.D. degree in 1969 and serving an internship at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, he briefly practiced in Syracuse before establishing his practice in Clinton in 1971. Dr. Vona became known to his patients not only as an excellent dentist but also for his personal consideration and kindness. Outside of his profession, he was known for his great devotion to his family and friends. He found particular leisure-time enjoyment in family vacations and with friends on the golf course, primarily at the nearby Skenandoa Club.
Marsette A. Vona was still engaged in his dental practice when he died unexpectedly at his home in Clinton on May 19, 2009. He is survived by his wife, the former Maria Elena Santos, whom he had wed in 1995, and a son and daughter, Marsette A. III and Josephine A. Vona, from his first marriage, in 1969, to Concetta Maggio. Also surviving are two stepdaughters and four sisters, including Beatrice Romano, wife of John E. Romano '49.
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Arthur Marinius Andreasen '68 was born in Norway on June 21, 1946. As a small child, he came to this country with his Norwegian parents, Knut Andreasen, a master merchant mariner who spent much of his time at sea, and the former Edith Pauline Pedersen. "Artie" Andreasen grew up in a Norwegian-speaking family that ultimately settled in Glen Cove on Long Island. There he attended Glen Cove High School and was elected president of the senior class. He came to Hamilton following his graduation in 1964.
Arthur Andreasen, who joined Delta Kappa Epsilon and played varsity football, left the Hill for reasons of academic deficiency after two years. The College has virtually no information about his subsequent activities except that he obtained a B.S. degree from New York Institute of Technology in 1976 and was employed as a computer programmer in 1979. Last known to be residing in Sea Cliff, NY, he died on November 14, 2008, as verified by Social Security records. A wife and two children reportedly survive him.
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Roger John Omaits '69, a former production supervisor for the Caterpillar Tractor Co., was born on January 7, 1946, to Edward L. and Elizabeth Grabitz Omaits, in Cleveland, OH. Roger Omaits grew up in the Cleveland suburbs, prepared for college at University School in Shaker Heights, and entered Hamilton from Mayfield Heights in 1964. He joined Delta Kappa Epsilon and became a member of the varsity golf team. Temporarily withdrawing from the College during his junior year, he spent some time in California, where he was employed by the Bunker-Ramo Corp. as a quality assurance representative. After acquiring his diploma from Hamilton as a philosophy and English major in 1970, he briefly attended the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
Subsequently employed by Caterpillar in Ohio and Illinois, Roger Omaits held a variety of positions with the company, including marketing representative and production manager. He became active in Free Mansonry as a senior deacon and past master of the Masonic Lodge in Cleveland. While residing in Lyndhurst, OH, he served as president of Citizens for Better Land Use. He remained an ardent golfer throughout his life.
Roger J. Omaits was residing in Germantown Hills, IL, near Peoria, when he died at his home on February 23, 2009. He is survived by his wife, Roxie A. Nelson, whom he had married in Peoria in 1991. Also surviving are a daughter, Jennifer Collins, from a previous marriage, and four stepdaughters and a brother.
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