Michael J. Fitzgerald
Michael J. Fitzgerald (1934-2009)
Contributed by William X Chávez, Jr. and Andrew R Campbell
Mike J. Fitzgerald was born on August 5, 1934 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the second oldest of eight children. Mike attended the University of Minnesota, where he graduated with a B.S. in geological engineering in 1957. Upon graduation Mike accepted a position as mine geologist with the Phelps Dodge Corporation at their Morenci Mine in southern Arizona. From Morenci, Mike and his family moved to Tucson, Arizona where he joined the Kerr-McGee Corporation as a senior geologist; he held that position until 1968, when he was transferred to Denver, Colorado as their district geologist in their Copper Exploration Department. In 1970 he moved to Vancouver, Canada as senior staff geologist for Donaldson Securities. Two years later he formed his own geological consulting and exploration company, Min-Ex Services Ltd.
A major event occurred in Mike’s life in 1975. Min-Ex Services Ltd., in conjunction with Henry W. Ranspot, acquired mineral claims in the Carlin gold district of Eureka County, Nevada. Exploration of these claims found what would become the western extension of Barrick's Betze gold deposit, and eventually part of the Goldstrike mine. These claims were sold to the Franco-Nevada Mining Corp. in 1993. Following the success of the exploration program in the Carlin Trend, Mike was for ten years the president of Metal Ex-Management Inc., and later became a consulting geologist in Bellingham, Washington.
Mike loved to travel, and in 1992 in Guatemala he met the woman who soon would become his third wife, Marisa. Both enjoyed many trips together; and Spain, Marisa's country of origin, became his second most-loved country. Mike and Marisa settled in the Tucson area, from which Mike continued his interests in exploration, economic geology, and investment opportunities within the minerals industry.
Mike Fitzgerald loved his profession. He took advantage of any opportunity to read and to learn everything about mineral exploration, and he loved to be in contact with anyone who could enrich his life. He especially enjoyed being with students and he took notes about each student's project so he could follow-up the next time he saw them. Students whom Mike’s contributions supported often commented that his interest in their work gave them a sense of importance, and that their choice in mining geology carried career-long responsibilities
He was very thankful for everything he received in his life and he wanted to give back to society. Mike contributed to the John P. Fitzgerald Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund (in honor of his father) at Saint John's University in Minnesota. He established the Don Yardley Fellowship Fund at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and the Don Yardley Endowment in Economic Geology at the University of Nevada, Reno in recognition of his favorite professor from the University of Minnesota. In the past five years, five graduate students at New Mexico Tech have been supported from the fellowship he established. In addition, his support of field programs at New Mexico Tech allowed students to travel internationally to visit some of the most important mining districts in the world, as well as to travel within the southwest U.S. to perform mapping exercises in geologically spectacular areas.
Mike also supported the Society of Economic Geologists by contributing to the Discovery Fund, the Hugo Dummett Fund, and the Alberto Terrones L. Fund; he supported the Economic Geology Scholarship Fund at the University of Arizona, the Saint Thomas Academy in Minnesota, and Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in the Republic of Korea. His concern for the homeless, and drug- and alcohol-addicted men and women, was evident in his support of the Gospel Rescue Mission and the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen - both in Tucson.
Mike suffered from COPD, and although full of hope until the last moment he came to the end of his journey on August 11, 2009 in Tucson.
On behalf of the past and future students who have benefited from Mike’s generosity and encouragement we thank him for his support of our students and programs. Donations in his name can be made to New Mexico Tech and will benefit the Don Yardley Endowment which Mike established in support of students interested in ore deposits.