Cover photo for David G. Fitzgerald's Obituary
David G. Fitzgerald Profile Photo

David G. Fitzgerald

August 23, 1935 — February 1, 2022

David G. Fitzgerald

David G. Fitzgerald, 86, passed peacefully on February 1, 2022, of natural causes. He was born August 23, 1935, in Oklahoma City, OK. A lifelong resident of Oklahoma City, David was an award-winning and internationally recognized professional photographer for more than forty years as well as a beloved husband and father. After graduating from Classen High School, David trained as a visual artist at the Kansas City Art Institute and Oklahoma City University, later working as a creative designer for both American Greetings in Cleveland, OH, and Hallmark in Kansas City, MO. He married Sally Schuessler, whom he met in an OCU art class, in 1961, and their first daughter Lauren was born in Kansas City in 1962. Their second daughter Diane (Diana) was born in Oklahoma City in 1969.As a young man in the Army Reserve (service of which he was particularly proud), he discovered his talent and love for photography. After returning to Oklahoma, he began a career as a commercial photographer that spanned more than five decades, producing pictures for regional and national advertising campaigns, annual reports, product catalogs, and other publications including Oklahoma Today magazine.His zeal for creating great images inspired all who worked with him, and his energy fed an atmosphere of fun and adventure. This charmed Mari Spencer, a new client, when they met in 1985. She journeyed with him to Israel in 1986 and, by the year's end, they were married.Few Oklahomans appreciated the many scenic parts of their state in the 1970s. But that was about to change. One snowy day, a man from Oregon entered David's photography studio. Although this stranger was suspected to be a salesman, he finally convinced David that he was offering him an opportunity to photograph Oklahoma for a coffee table book. That was "day one" of a long friendship and partnership with Douglas Pfeifer, Associate Publisher of Graphic Arts Center Publishing in Portland, OR.Over the years, David used his eye for the beauty of nature and enthusiasm for travel to produce images for 15 coffee table books on subjects ranging from the landscapes and architecture of Oklahoma (including its 77 courthouses), the Ozarks, and Israel to the noble peoples and cultures of the Cherokee Nation, the Chickasaw Nation and the Choctaw Nation. He cherished his experiences with each and every tribal member.55 images from his book Cherokee became an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution; "Cherokee Nation: A Portrait of a People" was on display from October 26, 2001, to April 9, 2002. His book Bison, Monarch of the Plains won an Oklahoma Book Award in 1999.Despite his busy life of photography in the studio and on location, he still had a burning desire to serve as a photojournalist, recording images of life as it happened, like his friend Jim Argo did at The Oklahoman newspaper. Enter an international humanitarian organization that commissioned him to document famine and tragic living conditions around the world, including Afghanistan, Kenya, Indonesia, and Central America. These adventures spanned over 10 years.David remained an avid supporter of the arts and arts education throughout his career. Most notable was his early and ongoing involvement with the Oklahoma Arts Institute (OAI), Oklahoma's elite arts education program serving high school students, educators and other artists wishing to enhance their skills. In 2005, David was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame. In 2010 he received the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book. In 2014 the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools honored David as a Wall of Fame member. He was three times named Oklahoma Photographer of the Year.David was preceded in death by his father Guy B. Fitzgerald, his mother Lucille Fitzgerald and his aunt Helen Murray. He is survived by his wife Mari Spencer Fitzgerald; daughter Lauren Fitzgerald and her life partner Brian Culver; daughter Diana Fitzgerald and her husband Buddy Wallace; grandson Elijah Fitzgerald Tuttle; ex-wife and mother of his children, Sally Fitzgerald; brother-in-law Charlie Spencer and his wife Judy Spencer; and Rainette Rowland, his longtime devoted assistant.A memorial with family and friends will be held April 20, 2022, at 2 pm, at the Greens Country Club in Oklahoma City. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the University of Central Oklahoma Foundation, College of Liberal Arts, Dept. of Mass Communication -Journalism, in Edmond, OK; ww.centralconnect.org.
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