THE entire student body formed a guard of honour on Tuesday in a moving tribute to Henschke’s late, great groundskeeper, Patrick Fitzgerald.
For the past 26 years, Mr Fitzgerald has been the handyman and groundsman at the school, becoming an indispensable part of Henschke life for thousands of locals.
During that time he learnt all the schools secrets, from where pipes were laid, the alarms were placed and even what plants grew well in certain places.
He started the job almost by chance when he filled in for a day for a friend who was sick.
Although he had no formal qualifications, Mr Fitzgerald could fix almost anything.
He was even considered to be just as good as the professionals in some areas.
If plumbers came to school and couldn’t locate pipes, they would turn to Mr Fitzgerald for help.
Over the years he even helped out in history classes.
He told the students stories about what life was like in Australia when he was growing up and what changes had occurred at the school since he had been there.
Mr Fitzgerald was at the school every morning when staff arrived. He would greet teachers and students as he went about his morning routine of watering pot plants.
Past and present staff and students will remember him for his gentle, caring ways and being a friend to everyone.
When Mr Fitzgerald turned 90 he said he wanted to continue his role at the school for as long as he could.
And he did, when he died on June 14, aged 92, he was still on the payroll.
Mr Fitzgerald was born in 1922 in Cootamundra and was the eldest of 10 children.
During his life he moved around working in different positions on farms, in the army and for a short time at a steel mill.
At a dance in 1950 he met his wife, Thelma Crane (now deceased).
The couple had two children and raised two more later in life.
A service was held on June 23 at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Wagga.
An additional requiem mass will be held in his home-town of Cootamundra.
The service will be held at 10am in the Sacret Heart Catholic Church on Sunday June 27.
After the service the funeral will proceed at the Cootamundra lawn cemetery.
Relatives and friends and invited to attend.
Mr Fitzgerald was a beloved father and father-in-law to Patricia and David Schereck, Anne Fitzgerald, Bianca and Garry Steman and Amanda Fitzgerald.
He also leaves behind six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
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