Janice Whitley Fitzgerald, 71, passed away Saturday, April 11, 2020 after a brief but ferocious battle with the COVID-19 virus. After surviving several heart attacks and kicking and screaming through years of declining health, Jesus came and tossed his hard-headed child over his shoulder and took her home for Easter. Glory!
Born and raised in Johnston County, Ms. Fitzgerald was a retired elementary school teacher, with most of her tenure spent in Pine Level. She taught math, science, reading, spelling- all the subjects expected of a third or fourth grade teacher, but she also imparted lessons of love, kindness, responsibility, respect and fun, both in and out of the classroom. Short-sheeting beds was a skill she was particularly good at, and one she loved teaching! In addition to teaching, Ms. Fitzgerald enjoyed a part time job for many years at Selma IGA, where she forged countless special friendships. In retirement she taught her most favorite students ever, her beloved grandchildren. Ms. Fitzgerald literally continues to teach today, as she selflessly donated her body to education. Throughout all of these years, she was a member of Selma Baptist Church, where she found much love and support.
Born on March 11, 1949, Ms. Fitzgerald was the daughter of the late Luther and Ruby Howes Whitley of Micro. In addition to her parents, Ms. Fitzgerald was preceded in death by her nephew, Andrew Kirby and step-granddaughter, Heather Guffey.
Surviving are her daughters, Anna Fitzgerald and husband, Aaron Grogan, of Clayton and Emily Guffey and husband, Keith, of Campobello, SC; sisters, Angelia Stancil and husband, John, of Wilson and Pama Kirby of Lucama; grandchildren, Caroline (Carley) Windley, Luther Guffey, Harvey Guffey, Billy Guffey, Aidan Edmondson; step-son, Michael Fitzgerald and family; step-grandson, Holden Guffey; two step-great-grandchildren; several dear nieces and nephews; many cousins and a very special group of lifelong girlfriends. Oh, and her heartthrob since the 80s, Tom Selleck.
Due to current group gathering limitations, there will be no funeral or celebration of Ms. Fitzgerald’s life at this time. The family has set up a “memorial and virtual funeral” page on Facebook, and all are invited to share stories, pictures, jokes, thoughts, or recipes on this page. As well, any updates on future celebrations of Ms. Fitzgerald’s life will be posted there.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to a scholarship fund that has been established in Ms. Fitzgerald’s memory. Contributions should be payable to NJHS with “JWF Scholarship” in the memo line and mailed to: NJHS, Attn: Connie Holland, Re: Janice Whitley Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship Fund, 5915 US HWY 301 North, Kenly, NC 27542.