(Posted Aug. 16, 2022)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Candy and Tom Fitzgerald met on a blind double-date the night before Tom, an Army man, left to serve in Vietnam. Candy wrote letters to Tom every day that he was overseas, even sending him a dating questionnaire, which he filled out and returned.
“I really feel we got to know each other in that short period of time,” Candy said.
Apparently, they were a match. On Aug. 2 of this year, the couple celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary. And on Aug. 20, they will be celebrated for their dedication to church, family and community as they serve as parade grand marshals at the Trinity United Methodist Church Annual Homecoming in Lilly Chapel.
“I grew up on the corner right across from the church,” said Tom who has been a member of Trinity United Methodist since he was 12 years old.
Candy grew up in Frazeysburg, Ohio, later moving to Columbus to stay at a Methodist boarding house while she attended Bliss College for secretarial training.
With the exception of a few years, the Fitzgeralds have lived their married lives a stone’s throw from the church and where Tom grew up. From the back of their home on Lilly Chapel-Georgesville Road, they can see the property where they raised their family. Tom likes to joke that, from his childhood home to his current abode, he hasn’t gotten very far.
While the Fitzgeralds have stayed put geographically, they have traveled far in terms of exploring and enjoying what life has to offer. They are extremely proud of their children–Kelly (Jerry) Wolf, William (Julie) Fitzgerald, and Ben Fitzgerald–and their grandchildren, Hunter, Forest, Blade, Ally, Paige, Kendall, Kaden and Jonas.
“They are really the most wonderful part of our 52 years together,” Candy said.
“My grandkids schedule my entertainment,” Tom added, referring to their many athletic, musical and other activities which he makes every effort to attend.
Candy retired from Sears as a secretary. She also worked as a mutuel clerk at Scioto Downs, taking race bets, and bartended a good bit over the years. Tom worked as a cable repairman for Ohio Bell for 28.5 years. Since then, he has done part-time work as a surveyor, helped out at a cement company, delivered wine, and made wine display racks. He currently puts in a few hours each week for a vending company.
“It hasn’t been boring,” Candy said, as much about their lives in general as about their work lives.
That includes their connections to the church. Candy joined Trinity United Methodist when she married Tom.
“It was very much like the Methodist church I grew up in. Everybody knew each other,” she said. “It’s always felt like home to me.”
Candy served as the church secretary for a while and is active in the United Methodist Women. Tom served on the administrative board for years and now serves as a trustee.
“We’ve got a good group,” he said of the trustees. “We’re all retired. There are a lot of different talents–tinkering and fixing things, working with electronics, wood working. We do just about anything.”
For being a small church, the congregation stays busy, serving not only their own but the community at large.
“And it’s not because we want people to notice. It’s just what we do,” Tom said.
One of those things the church does is host the annual homecoming which features a parade, children’s activities, live music, crafts, an auction, good food and more. The event is open to the public.
Candy likes the homecoming for the opportunity it provides for people to get together. Tom enjoys seeing former church members show up to reconnect with friends.
Tom also gets a kick out of watching a law enforcement officer direct traffic for the parade, something that doesn’t happen any other time of year in tiny Lilly Chapel.
“It’s the highlight of the year,” he joked.
This year, he and Candy will experience that highlight from a different perspective as the parade honorees.
The 2022 Lilly Chapel Homecoming parade steps off at 11 a.m. Aug. 20.
38th Annual Homecoming Schedule of Events
Trinity United Methodist Church
The church, located at 8530 Lilly Chapel Georgesville Rd., London (Lilly Chapel), is hosting a full day of family-friendly fun.
Saturday, Aug. 20
11 a.m. Parade
1 p.m. Kiddie pedal pull
2:15-3:45 p.m. ….Ladies of Longford
4:15-5:45 p.m. Muleskinner Band
6 p.m. .Trinity live auction
All day ……….Food, crafts, goodies tent, dunk
tank, face painting and bake sale
Crafters and parade participants are welcome. For information, call the church at (614) 879-8007, Connie Ballah at (614) 329-8199, or Sandy Conner at (614) 774-3547.