Roy Gerald Fitzgerald

Roy Gerald Fitzgerald was an adventurer. He flew airplanes, climbed mountains, and made challenging swims. He also served Dayton as a lawyer and was a U.S. Congressman.

Fitzgerald was born on Aug. 25, 1875, in Watertown, N.Y. He was the son of Michael Gerald Fitzgerald and Cornelia Maria Avery Fitzgerald.

The family moved to Dayton in 1890 when his father, an executive with the Davis Sewing Machine Company, was relocated to the city by new owner George P. Huffman.

Fitzgerald attended public schools, first in Watertown and then in Dayton. He read law with John M. Sprigg in Dayton and took economics college courses.

In 1896 Fitzgerald was admitted to the Ohio Bar and became a partner in the Sprigg and Fitzgerald law firm. When the law firm was dissolved, he continued to practice law on his own.

Fitzgerald married Caroline Wetecamp in 1900. They had three children: two girls, Ruth and Dorothy and one boy, Roy Jr. Their son died near the end of WWII from battle wounds.

In 1920 Fitzgerald was elected an U.S. Congressman from Ohio’s Third District. He held this office for four more terms before being defeated in 1930. While in office he fought for child labor laws, federal care for the aged and needy, and the reorganization of the U.S. Army Air Corps.

After failing to be re-elected he returned to law practice in Dayton. In 1934 Fitzgerald bought a 133 acre farm south of Alexandersville.

Fitzgerald was a Director of the Merchants National Bank and Trust Company for over fifty years.

He was president of the Montgomery County Historical Society for 22 years and helped save landmarks such as Newcom Tavern and the Old Courthouse.

Fitzgerald’s first wife died in 1935. He then married Alverda J. Sinks.

He was known as the “aerial daredevil” of Congress because he flew from Dayton to Washington, D.C., for the “lame duck” session of the 1922 Congress.

Fitzgerald was a licensed pilot who knew Orville and Wilbur Wright, Dayton’s pioneers of powered flight.

He climbed Mount Rainier in 1925 and swam the Bosporus, a strait in Turkey that is a boundary between the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. The strait is between 2.3 miles and 2,450 feet in width. Fitzgerald completed the swim in 30 minutes in spite of a cold rain.

Following a long illness, Fitzgerald died on Nov. 16, 1962. He is buried at Woodland Cemetery near his parents, wives and son.

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Contact this contributing writer at rdyoakam58@yahoo.com.

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