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Obituary: Daniel FitzGibbon, Indianapolis


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Daniel H. FitzGibbon, 71, Indianapolis, died on September 19, 2013. A dedicated public servant and lawyer, Dan was a beloved husband and father whose gentle spirit, intelligence, generosity, and sense of humor will be deeply missed.

Dan was born in Columbus, Indiana to Joseph and Lenore (Harvey) FitzGibbon and graduated from Columbus High School. He then attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, receiving a B.S. in Engineering in 1964. After graduation, he served over five years as an Army infantry officer, rising to the rank of Captain. He successfully completed the Army’s Airborne and Ranger schools and was first in his class at its Special Forces qualification course. He served nearly three years in West Berlin, Germany, and then spent 19 months, including 10 months as an A Team leader, with the Fifth Special Forces Group (ABN) in Vietnam during 1968-69. In 2005, the Indiana Historical Society published his book, “To Bear any Burden: A Hoosier Green Beret’s Letters from Vietnam."

After his Army service, he attended Harvard Law School, graduating with honors in 1972. He joined the Indianapolis law firm that later became Barnes & Thornburg as a business and corporate tax lawyer, later becoming a partner, heading his department and serving on numerous law firm committees including 13 years on the firm’s management committee. Dan was a member of the American, Indiana State and Indianapolis Bar Associations, a fellow of their respective foundations, a member of the American Law Institute, and a fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel. He was named an Indiana Super Lawyer and Distinguished Barrister, and was listed in Best Lawyers in America.

Blending his interests and experiences in international public service and law, Dan spent a year in Russia during 1998-99, running a commercial law reform program on a pro bono basis. He then became of counsel to his law firm to enable him to carry out more legal reform projects, eventually completing some 28 assignments in over 20 countries in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, North Africa and the Middle East. His work ranged from legislative drafting to organizing and conducting training workshops for lawyers and judges, association building, assessment of judicial systems and legal professions, and general rule of law development.

His community activities included eight years as a member (two as president) of the school board of the M.S.D. of Lawrence Township during 1988-96, as well as service as a board member of the Lawrence Township School Foundation and as a trustee and adviser of the Eiteljorg Museum. He was a long-time member of the Woodstock Club, the former Indianapolis Athletic Club, Lawyers Club, the Literary Club of Indianapolis, the American Legion and the Special Forces Association, among other organizations.

Many of these activities and achievements, as well as completion of the Chicago Marathon and over a dozen Mini-Marathons, took place after he developed heart disease in 1980 and incurred numerous coronary bypass operations, angioplasties and other procedures.

Dan will be greatly missed by his wife of 40 years, Joan (Meltzer), his daughter, Katherine Lenore FitzGibbon, and her husband Daniel Rasay, of Portland, Oregon; his son, Thomas Bernard FitzGibbon, of Indianapolis; and two sisters, Sally Adair of New York City and Nancy Litwiller of Morton, Illinois. He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Julie Stewart.

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Lawrence Township School Foundation, the Indiana University Foundation-Krannert Institute of Cardiology, the West Point Fund, or the donor’s favorite charity.

Calling will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 25th at Flanner and Buchanan-Broad Ripple, 1305 East Broad Ripple Avenue. Services will be held Thursday, September 26th at 2 p.m. at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 100 East 86th Street. Burial will be private.

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