John James Fitzgerald

April 27, 1923 ~ November 10, 2021 (age 98)



Mr. John James Fitzgerald died peacefully at Suburban Hospital on November 10, 2021. He was 98 years old.

John is survived by his son Sean Fitzgerald of Bethesda, Maryland; his daughter Peggy Vyas of Potomac, Maryland; his son Charles Fitzgerald of Gaithersburg, Maryland; his son-in-law Nimish Vyas, and his granddaughter Keara Vyas.  He is preceded in death by his wife, Ruth Ann Magill Fitzgerald, his parents, and all three of his siblings.

John was born on April 27, 1923 in Naugatuck, Connecticut.  He was the second oldest child of Maurice Fitzgerald and Margaret O’Donnell Fitzgerald. He graduated from Naugatuck High School in 1941. Following the war, during which he worked at a tool and die factory in Waterbury, he attended the University of Connecticut, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1951. John was a member of Pi Tau Sigma, which is the International Honor Society for Mechanical Engineers. He continued his education, eventually earning a Master’s Degree from the University of Southern California in 1972. 

After college John worked for the Martin company.  Some of his projects there included the Matador Wing missile and the Vanguard rocket. This led to his moving to Cocoa Beach Florida in 1958, where, in addition to supporting NASA in its earliest days, he met Ruth Ann Magill at an Easter dance in 1961. They were married 8 months later on December 2nd in St. Brendan Catholic Church in Miami.

After the birth of their first child they moved to California, where their second child was born.  Soon after they moved to Texas, where he worked at the Manned Spaceflight Center in Houston. They eventually settled in Maryland in 1968, where their third child was born. The family had been living in Boyds, Maryland since 1973, in a house that John helped designed. 

While at NASA, John helped design simulators and mockups used in astronaut training. After leaving NASA in 1968, John worked for the Department of Defense. He retired from the federal government in 1991.

John was a devout Catholic who was very active in St. John Neumann Catholic Church during his retirement years. John was also active in the Residential Services Group of the Arc of Montgomery County, where he served as treasurer.

The family would like to thank the staff at Brookdale Potomac and his many caregivers for their care and dedication, most especially Rosa Monterrosa.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11:00 AM on Monday, December 6, 2021 at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, 9000 Warfield Rd, Gaithersburg, MD 20882. Internment will immediately follow the Mass at All Souls Cemetery, 11401 Brink Rd, Germantown, MD 20876. For those wishing to participate remotely, a live-stream of the Mass can be viewed on the church's YouTube channel, found at


To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John James Fitzgerald, please visit our floral store.


Mass of Christian Burial
December 6, 2021

11:00 AM
St. John Neumann Catholic Church
9000 Warfield Rd.
Gaithersburg, MD 20882

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