Jim O'Leary

Waverly Star

By Jim O'Leary

An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.

 Oct. 6, 2003

The grand gathering of the Fitzpatrick clan

Although there were no bagpipes at the Waterfront Park in Waverly, there were musicians aplenty in the Fitzpatrick Clan to more than make up for it.

There was no need for pipes "calling from glen to glen" because Mary Kay Herbst Johnson had already made the rounds on a motor trip to visit far-flung Fitzpatrick cousins, rounding them up for Saturday, August 30, 2003, the first of what will be many more reunions.

The offspring are numerous and, according to witnesses, just as noisy as their ancestors.

On what was described as "a perfect day," there were 22 first cousins, all descendants of Florian and Katie Fitzpatrick. The spouses of the Fitzpatrick cousins made it a crowd of 37.

Florian and Katie had nine children and, along with the other Fitzpatricks, turned Waverly into the Fitzpatrick capital of the world. This was a reunion of the grandchildren of Florian and Katie.

Breakfast at the ballpark started at 10 a.m., timed for the arrivals. There was Irish coffee. After the usual milling around, the PA system took over and hardly quieted down the rest of the day, this being a gathering of Fitzpatricks after all.

It was then on to the cemetery "for those who wanted to go." That turned into a small herd.

They visited and prayed, in turn, at the graves of Florence Fitzpatrick Padden, Duly Fitzpatrick Herbst, Leonard Fitzpatrick, Crete Fitzpatrick and Mary Fitzpatrick Epstein.

Although the Fitzpatricks had spread all over the world, these revered parents and aunts and uncles all reunited in St. Mary's Cemetery, a way station until the final reunion in heaven.

Many other graves were visited, and there was a grand mixture of tears and laughter.

Then it was back to the Waterfront Park where a fabulous pork roast dinner awaited them, catered, of course, by Red's Cafe of Montrose.

The men worked up an appetite for the feast by cutthroat horseshoe pitching with all four pits going. The names of the winners have been lost, although there were prizes awarded.

A formal talent contest followed and talent there was. A clear highlight was the harp performance by Rosalie Herbst Padden.

There was an accordion duet by Annie Herbst May and Mary Kay Herbst Johnson. Mike Fitzpatrick, like his father Raymond ("Red") before him, sang a stunning "Galway Bay" and the Padden brothers gave everybody a guitar concerto.

Kevin, Bernie's son, recited wonderful poetry, some of it his own. All of this was interspersed with stories, which everyone could hear, thanks to a good sound system. Dan Herbst, the world class Emcee, kept his remarks brief and apt, as usual.

After the talent contest there was a magnificent slide show presented by Virginia Padden, who, among other things, is a professional photographer.

It was she who arranged the Fitzpatricks, as if that were possible, into an acceptable group in the bleachers and took some photographs, which will be filed into posterity as a classic.

As the full perfect moon rose over Waverly Lake, all hugged and said their farewells after the haunting harmony of "Now is the Hour When We Must Say Goodbye" floated over the lake.

It wasn't over yet. An unnamed relative opened the trunk of his car and brought out some loud and successful fireworks and fired them off over Waverly Lake, exploding like Harold Reardon's cannons.

Someone objected to the clearly illegal discharges by hollering "Where in the hell is Tom O'Connell when we need him!"

A wonderful reunion of another sort took place August 5, at Russell's Restaurant in St. Michael, Minnesota.

This is the letter I received from Arleen Peterson (Mrs. Wally):

"Our St. Mary's high school class of 1947 had a class reunion and all 12 remaining classmates were in attendance: Mary Copeland (Sister St. Luke, CSJ), Eleanor Diers Boltz (Elroy), Cyril Dressen (Mary Ann Goodridge), Mary Galvin Coyne (Marty), Lorayne Karels Zachman, Joan McHale Berners (Ed), Jeanne Meehan Bengston, Alice O'Connell, George Stackhart, Cletus Stifter, Arleen Stumpf Peterson (Wally) and Mary Zeller Grotz (Wally).

"The four deceased members were Ann Althoff (Neaton) who died July 24, 1962, Virginia Berkner (Cullen) who died January 10, 1999, Robert Sawatzke and, most recently on October 20, 2002, Teresa Reardon (Zeleny).

"We've all agreed that we'll meet somewhere from now on every summer."

Typical St. Mary's.

We became family like no other school I have ever known.

And this just in from Marlowe Kingstedt:

"In my hometown of Kimball, there was a garage that had two signs in front of it. One said, Come in and we will block your knock off, and another which said We stand in front of our brake jobs. (Which is better than the manure spreader salesman who wouldn't stand behind his sales. Marlowe told us about that after his visit to the fairgrounds in Brainerd.)

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