Honorary Alumni Award
Recipients of the Honorary Alumni Award have embodied the goals and guiding principles of the University and relate to other alumni as if they had been a member of the student body. That can surely be said of Bob Fitzgerald.
Years ago, while Bob was dating Jan (Braun) Fitzgerald '61, she invited him to attend her college homecoming, and in Bob's own words, "I hardly knew anyone during that first visit." As the weekend progressed, he felt a welcoming spirit and a sense of family and wanted very much to be a part of it. That warm and welcoming feeling continued during many visits over the years and remains true today.
As Bob and Jan's family grew, two of their three children, Robin (Fitzgerald) Long '89 and Randy Fitzgerald '91, chose to attend Graceland, both playing on the varsity volleyball teams. During that time, you couldn't walk into a gym, whether the Closson Center or complexes across the Midwest, and not find Bob and Jan cheering on their children, along with the rest of the Graceland team. The couple loved watching their kids compete and were especially proud rooting for Graceland College, a school they both held in high regard.
Cheering at these ball games led to hosting Graceland squads in their Quad Cities home. Feeding and housing the many Yellowjackets teams became a labor of love for Bob and Jan.
Fast foward to 2011, when the couple decided to make a major financial gift to Graceland enabling the university to take a big step forward with building a state-of-the-art fitness center geared toward the general student body. It was a dream project long on the drawing boards at Graceland and was realized on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2012, when the Fitzgerald Fitness Center (popularly called "The Fitz") was dedicated on a beautiful fall Lamoni day.
Bob Fitzgerald has truly embraced and exemplified all that is good about Graceland, and his passion for our university can now be referred to as passion for his university, as we bestow upon him the status of Honorary Alumni.