by Pat Winter
When Carol was just 14 years old, she remembers looking out the window of her parents’ home in the Ozone Park neighborhood of New York City and watching a handsome young man walk by. “I’ll marry him some day,” Carol remembers telling her grandmother who lived with them in this close-knit community. And she did! That handsome young man, Tom Fitzgerald, married Carol 52 years ago. After living in the neighborhood of Howard Beach as newlyweds, they moved to the north shore of Long Island in Suffolk County to have more open space. There they lived on one acre of land for 43 years, raising two daughters, and living a very busy lifestyle.
As Tom recalled his multiple careers and their highs and lows, each new endeavor sounded like a daring undertaking. Tom began his work career with The Service Bureau Corp., a subsidiary of IBM. But in just a few years he and a friend formed a data processing service bureau business of their own called National Computer Systems. They started out by renting
computer time from a large Wall Street company from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. Fortunately, they soon landed an American Stock Exchange company as a customer, moved the business to Hollis, Queens, and were able to lease computers of their own. But after seven years, the demands of being on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, began to take their toll. A change in lifestyle became Tom’s top priority. Changing careers took Tom in many different directions. Over the years, his occupational adventures included working as the sales manager for Champion Spark Plug Co., soliciting business for the Association for the Help of Retarded Children, owning and operating a wholesale and retail beer distributor, managing a party
-goods store in Nassau County, and purchasing a company specializing in equipment used in school nurses’ offices. In the meantime, Carol was keeping busy. When they were first married, she worked for Miles Laboratory and Proctor and Gamble, putting their beauty-care products into local stores. But years later, a hobby became a real job opportunity. Carol bought an existing plant store where her first job was to memorize the light and growing conditions needed for not only her favorite plants, but for hundreds of them. Tom soon got involved
in helping with the business and was even known by some customers as “the plant expert.” Today, the plants in the Fitzgerald home are evidence of her skill and knowledge in the care of beautiful indoor plants.
Now that they are retired from their busy lifestyle, why did the Fitzgeralds choose to relocate here, in our quiet community on the shores of the Albemarle Sound? Both agree that no
matter when they came here to visit, they always felt “comfortable.” Although they have been residents less than six months, both say that despite having to change doctors, hairdressers,
and shopping habits that had served them well for years, they are content. “We have a wonderful life here. This place is an oasis, and the good far outweighs any negatives,” remarks Tom.
Tom and Carol, experienced sailors, are thinking about purchasing a pontoon boat, which would allow them to cruise the waters of the Albemarle Sound when their five grandchildren come to visit. They have joined the Italian Heritage Club, volunteer at Open Door Food Pantry, and are attending Thursday’s AP Bible Study. And Tom has already brought home a bronze medal in the Senior Games Bocce Competition held here last month. Way to go, Tom! And welcome home Carol and Tom!!