David Fitzgibbon

In Memoriam

David Fitzgibbon

Portrait of David Fitzgibbon smiling with a video camera in front of a brick wall.

Nebraska’s David “Fitz” Fitzgibbon, the iconic creative who joyfully captured the vibrancy of campus life and university history through the eyepiece of a video camera, died on Friday, January 20 following injuries from a fall. Read about his lasting impact on the campus community in Nebraska Today.

A memorial event celebrating David’s life will be held on Sunday, January 29 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Visitors Center, 13th and Q Streets.

Memories of David

David’s connections and impacts on campus over his 25-year association with UNL are deep and long-lasting. Please share your remembrance of Fitz through the form below.

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Fitz and I went from just colleagues to colleagues and friends when we both happen to start taking the same Saturday morning cycling class at the YMCA. If you're like me, you prefer not to see anyone you know while working out. But soon enough we became cycling buds and I found myself next to him in those classes.

Fitz always stuck out to me for being so easy and comfortable to be around and work with. We'd be in meetings with campus partners where they would tell us the problem they were trying to solve or what they wanted to do, and almost immediately Fitz would have multiple different suggestions and ideas about how we could move forward. I've never worked with anyone who can respond so quickly and thoughtfully as Fitz. Need help with something? He had the answer or would get the answer for you right away. Email him a request or question? Bet you'd see an email back within minutes with all your answers and then some. I’ll miss that, and mostly miss our random kitchen conversations.

It's rare you come across people who are effortlessly reliable, smart, hardworking, and genuinely caring-- and that was Fitz. I feel so lucky to know him and have worked with him for 8 years.

Lauren Becwar, UCOMM colleague and friend

Members of the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women recently reflected on the passing of David “Fitz” Fitzgibbon. One recurring comment heard was that Fitz was the epitome of “every interaction matters.” As explained by Molly Brummond, Assistant Dean for Student Development, Fitz “was so exceedingly kind and welcoming. He was one of the first people I worked with when I joined the College of Law. I had no idea what I was doing. Yet he never made me feel anything less than welcomed, appreciated, and valued. He made every interaction matter with every person he encountered.” Fitz was also known as someone who was never too busy to try to help you out, even though we all knew his workload was very heavy. Jeff Sheldon remembers Fitz as someone who was always going above and beyond. Sheldon noted, “He was always the person you could email to ask a question or get help, and he was always kind, friendly, and happy to assist himself or point you in the right direction.” It’s rare that someone is recognized as being so incredibly talented and also nearly universally liked, but that was Fitz. One thing is certain: Fitz’s presence on campus will be missed. Our hearts go out to his family.

Joann Ross, Chair, Chancellor's Commission on the Status of Women

I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of Fitz’s death. He was an incredible colleague and friend. I had the privilege to be the subject of several of Fitz’s video shoots, and he always made it easy and comfortable. He was so positive and funny, and I looked forward to opportunities to work with him whether a camera was involved or not. One time, I bought Fitz a gift card as a thank you for a project he had done for me. He sent me a thank you note and excitedly shared that he was going to use it to buy some new parts for his lawnmower! We also connected on social media, and I always enjoyed his lighthearted observations of the world. Through word and deed, Fitz was an influencer without even trying to be.

Shelley Zaborowski, Executive Director, Nebraska Alumni Association

When I was 12, David taught me how to burn CD's. I felt like I just acquired a new super power, so shortly after, I checked out the entire Rolling Stones discography from my local library to copywrite infringe. David ushered me into the tech world, and that was something that we shared. I will miss our discussions of the latest product reviews on Consumer Reports and trading suggestions on new podcasts series.

When I was little and having a difficult time through my parents divorce, I spent some time with Tina and David over the summers. I remember one day when I was visiting, David filmed me trying all kinds of different fruits and vegetables for the first time. It was a critical food review of produce from a 5(ish)-year-old. I remember screaming into the camera, " I. LIKE. PICKLLLLLLES!!!"

David was always kind and engaging with me as a child. I can proudly say that he was one of the most impactful male role models in my formative years and I will miss him dearly.

Ethan, favorite nephew

Fitz leaves a remarkable legacy, both professionally and personally. Fitz’s emotional generosity and kindness is unsurpassed. Everyone who met Fitz counted him as a friend because he treated each of us with such kindness, respect and grace. Working with Fitz was always a pleasure. Whether we were strategizing the best ways to promote Husker research or comparing the best deals from Consumer Reports, I marveled at his talent and knowledge as well as his unflagging enthusiasm for his work, for life in general and especially for his family. Rest easy, friend.

Vicki Miller, Former UNL colleague

Fitz was one of the most wonderful humans on this earth. I was lucky to have known him through high school and as a coworker for over 25 years. Fitz was the same in high school as he was today – caring, helpful, thoughtful, talented, and warm. A few years ago I talked Fitz into coming to my indoor cycling class at the Downtown YMCA. I was shocked that he showed up one day and happy he kept with it for several years. I always reminded him when it was holiday meal time at the dining centers – he loved a good prime rib dinner at guest meal prices. He was always a voice of reason, a calm. I can hear his voice, reassuring me of good things to come. Fitz was always the guiding example of being a good human who made the world a better place. I will miss him so much.

Shari Rosso, Marketing/Comm, University Housing & Scottsbluff High School classmate

Dave was so kind and caring, and always found the best in people! On my first day at the university campus, Dave got tasked with attending an Indian ice cream social – one where I was the only student that attended. He shot a video, and talked to me after. Then, I saw him everywhere! I met Dave all over campus, and we grabbed lunch from time to time, and he shared his love of his family and friends. He believed in me, and encouraged me to get involved. We helped record an Indian TV show on campus. He celebrated my undergrad graduation. He made sure his team was well positioned to record me walking across the stage at my Masters graduation. Dave always thought about others and what he could do with them, and his heart leaves a hole in our campus and city community. My deepest thoughts are with the family, all his friends, and everyone mourning this loss.

Aakriti Agrawal, Friend

One of my earliest memories of Fitz was at a staff meeting where we were all asked to suggest how we would absorb various degrees of budget cuts and what we would do with any (far less likely) budget increases. This conversation quickly devolved into an airing of grievances until Fitz expressed how much he loved his job and how lucky he was to be able to tell amazing stories and work with wonderful people. Through the years as I have encountered Fitz on campus or followed him on Facebook, it is clear that his love of his work never subsided from those early days. His posts about cooking challenges with family and friends remind me of the time he brought creme brulee and a tiny blow torch to the office potluck. And as a Westie "mom", I have thoroughly enjoyed his photos and videos of his beloved Lucy. Fitz's years were far too few, but every day was clearly full to overflowing with the joy of life, and I am glad to have shared even a small part of that joyful existence with him.

Sally Buchholz, Former colleague at UNL

Fitz, you have created a hole in our hearts and at UCOMM that will never be filled. You always helped everyone, from holding a light to improve my photos when we were shooting side-by-side to watering the office plants during those few months of COVID lockdown. You strived for everything to be the best possible and literally sweated the details. You always moved the Grit and Glory metal sculptues usually on the hottest day of August and hauled a video production studio amount of equipment up the ladder inside the cupola for the Chancellor’s welcome-back video.

Craig Chandler, Coworker

Thank You, David Fitzgibbon.

Thank you for your generosity with your time and talent. Thank you for your advice, recommendations and reviews in how we could all save more of our treasure.

Thank you for befriending everyone you met with your big smile, open arms and can do attitude.

Thank you for being a servant leader, collaborator, confidant and friend.

Thank you for sharing your bright light even in the darkest of times.

Thank you for your commitment to ensuring the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a place we all love so much, had the powerful stories of students, staff and faculty, captured and shared. Your work helped connect Nebraska with the world. And we are all so lucky it did, as we’ve all learned and benefitted from being in your orbit.

Thank you for being a team player and doing things you absolutely hated (like retreats and group therapy bike tours) and always being the one to help us Fitz-it, no matter what it would take.

Thank you for never saying no to new opportunities and doing the things you loved with heart, creativity, grit, an amazing light set up and likely some form of ficus plant.

Thank you for officially being the steward of the “Grit” and “Glory” sculptures as you are forever an embodiment of what it means when we say the phrase “In Our Grit, Our Glory.”

Thank you to Adam, Grace and Chloe for sharing you with us all. We are all forever changed for good because you were in our lives.

Thank you for being a permanent stamp on us all and being a prominent fixture of a true dream team.

Rest in Peace and don’t hate us for celebrating you.

Tyler Thomas, Colleague and Friend

Fitz just supported our team’s effort to produce videos for one of UNL’s first international ad campaigns. The impact of his creativity and passion for storytelling extends far beyond campus. His legacy will include the many international students that join our community in the coming years.

Blayne Sharpe, Director of International Student Recruitment

Fitz was an amazing person, videographer, and champion of UNL and all things Nebraska! Over the years he would take various videos documenting my research on bullying prevention. We would traipse all over Lincoln looking for the best location: mostly playgrounds around the city. Fitz always had the best shots, angles, and ideas. He was kind, funny, and dedicated to promoting the work of the university. This is such a huge loss for all of us.

Susan Swearer, Chair, Department of Educational Psychology

Dave was a very generous, spirited and creative guy. He would go the extra mile to make the media and the message outstanding. I will always remember Dave bounding up the stairs at Admin with a smile on his face and a pithy remark ready at any time. What a terrible loss for his family and UNL. Thank you, Dave, for all of the lives you touched. You clearly made this world a better place. Rest in peace.

Nancy F. Myers, Director, Organization Development, HR

Fitz's loss is very untimely and heartbreaking, I am still having a hard time processing the news. His love for his work and dedication to UNL was exemplary. He was always very professional, meticulous, and kind during our interactions.

Rest in peace, Fitz. And, thank you for everything!

Nes Vance, Outreach Support Associate, BBR

Most of my work-related interactions with Fitz involved questions like "Have you seen the leading economic indicator video?" or "Could you send me the commencement speeches when they're ready?" but I always enjoyed the random conversations we had in the office. I wish we'd had more.

One memory I'll cherish is participating in a scavenger hunt with Fitz last year in which he asked at the start, "Should we run?" and Clay Lewis and I replied "I guess?" He couldn't tolerate the thought of finishing second. We won by five minutes, arriving at The Copper Kettle before it even opened. (Fitz celebrated with his customary water.)

Simply put, I have never met anyone else with Fitz's work ethic; I suspect I never will. Beyond that, he was an extraordinarily decent, passionate person with a great sense of humor. He was so good at his job that he made the rest of us sort of feel like frauds by comparison. And he never needed, or wanted, to be the center of attention. (As others have said, he would have been a little embarrassed by all these tributes.) I thoroughly enjoyed working with Fitz and will miss him quite a lot.

Tina, Adam, Grace, Chloe and Kip: Thank you for sharing Dave with us. The university is a far better place because of him, and his bright light will continue to guide our work for years to come.

Sean Hagewood, Colleague

Dave did such fine videography, and he was always a great pleasure to work with, low-key but entirely professional and at the same time, easy to be with. Sincere condolences to Dave's family and to all who knew him, he was a real feather in the university's cap. Many, many people will miss him.

Michael James, Chair Emeritus, Dept. of Textiles

What shocking news! I can't believe my eyes when I read Nebraska Today. Dave participated in my research project in 2022. To thank him for helping me with recruitment, I treated him at Blue Sushi restaurant. We got to know each other better. He was energetic, joyful, and helpful to others. I was amazed that he was so well-connected with many people on campus. He helped me recruit many research participants. Thank you, Dave. May you rest in peace. My thoughts and prayers are with your family and friends during this challenging time.

Yingying Wang, He participated in my research study and helped me advocate for my work

The least heralded but most important individual tasked with promoting the public face of the University is often the person behind the camera. “Fitz” was that person, so central in so many ways. He was energetic, creative, tolerant of those who did not naturally take to being in front of the camera, and often amused by what he carefully recorded. But he was more than a videographer. He was most often the director and the creative content provider. His talent and patience were amply demonstrated in such projects as “Tommy Lee Goes to College”, “Perls of Knowledge” and my interview with Johnny Carson. In each he played a significant role that has been well documented. Less known, he was called upon to produce a surprise video for my retirement dinner featuring six of my grandchildren and Leo, a large Irish Wolf Hound. Secretly with my wife, he arranged the filming. Susan reported that the grandchildren were cooperative, but Leo presented a singular challenge. Only someone like Fitz, with his good humor and enthusiasm could have survived the experience. Susan and I were both deeply shocked and saddened when we learned of Fitz’s fall. The University will miss him. More importantly, we will personally miss our interactions with him.

Harvey and Susan Perlman, Former Chancellor

It was a pure pleasure getting the opportunity to meet David while I briefly helped him keep his home clean he was always very appreciated...! Rest in peace my friend!

LuAnn Sotelo, Friend

I'm simply crushed.

Dorothy Endacott, VP Marketing and Communications, University of Nebraska Foundation

It was always clear that Fitz had a passion for getting just the right shots to tell the story. He came into interviews with patience and the ability to get it right even when I would fumble over words or when our robots didn't do the right thing for the camera. He brought so much to the university, but it is clear that his legacy will live on through his many works and through our memories of the man behind the camera. Rest in peace.

Carrick Detweiler, His wonderful video shoots

Dave was a wonderful and generous colleague. The UNL Libraries benefited greatly from his many talents. I don't know where we go when we leave this earthly plane, but I like the thought of Dave stopping by now and then to film campus activities from the cupola on top of Love Library.

Nancy Busch, Dean Emeritus of UNL Libraries

'I think we got it. That was great.' These words come to mind whenever I reflect on my time with Fitz. They were not only an indication that we had finally finished the numerous takes I needed to do or it was time to move on, but they were also words of affirmation and support. No matter how many takes you needed, how frustrated you were feeling, or how nervous you felt, Fitz always had a way of rooting you on and guiding you through it. He made you feel good about what you had done. While the camera shined on you, his joy and light shined through you. In any take, he reminded you that you could always 'do it again.' You can always start over. 'You got this.' I will always remember this cheerleading, motivating, and forever optimistic, joyful soul.

Marco Barker, UNL Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion

As many have said, Fitz was one of a kind. His video work at the university was phenomenal and his work ethic was inspiring. As a young videographer, he has been someone I have looked up to for many years. Since the first day I started my career at the College of Business he has been a great mentor and coworker. We always had each others backs when it came to sharing footage with each other for certain projects, his advice was “gold” and I could always rely on him with anything. For example, a video was always uploaded to YouTube within minutes no matter what Fitz was doing. You really could tell that he loved what he did! I am so honored to have been able to work with him! His legacy at UNL will live forever among the footage he captured and video projects he created over the years.

Keeping all of his family in my thoughts and prayers.

Bridget Harris, College of Business, Assistant Director of Media Production

Dave was always helpful, respectful, and had great ideas of how to make a project better. His many kindnesses were always appreciated.

Jon Wilson, Communication Specialist

It wouldn't take long to get a sense of who Fitz was by walking with him to a video shoot across campus, where he must have logged a million steps in 25 years.

He didn't stroll - he knew where he was going, and he was going with a purpose.

Lugging that giant camera in his grip or on top of bulky bags of lights and light stands piled on a cart. Even with all that gear weighing him down, he was moving. No pretense in sight and no time to waste. Another creative challenge ahead.

And yet, even as he was already envisioning how to shoot and edit this next video on the list, even as you were wondering if you could keep up the pace, he was with you.

Asking about your family. Sharing a home improvement tip. Helping you think through the right approach for an email you would need to send later.

He was more than a colleague. More a like a super-talented, expert-communicator friend, who was constantly looking for ways to help. Right there with you.

If you walked with him, as I was lucky to do, he always will be.

Andy Schadwinkel, UNL colleague and friend

Dave was my very first boss at UNL in the late 90s. He had recently started at university communications and I was hired as an intern to help out wherever needed. It was my real first job in the field and I has a front row seat watching how to thrive and enjoy working at the university. His ability to tell stories, create outstanding content with as few resources as possible, and take on just about any project that would help was a testament to his servant attitude and frugality. He was generous with his time and as a teacher. My favorite moment was years later when we were working on a branding video for the alumni association and shooting a scene with Tom Osborne. It was an overcast day in the stadium and Dave was quite concerned about lighting. As Tom emerged from the tunnel, the sun brightly broke through. Under his breath, Fitz leaned over and whispered to me “Of course… Nothing to worry about - I forget that the sunshine follows Tom around in this place.” He had an impact on me then as a 19-year-old intern an will continue to impact myself and others through the lessons he taught and the example he taught was for years to come.

Andy Washburn, Assoc Exec Director, Nebraska Alumni Association

Many people called David Fitzgibbon "Fitz" but I called him My Buddy Dave. I honestly cannot remember when we first met, but it was at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln many years ago and most likely for something with UPC Nebraska. I always referred to Dave as THE UNL Videographer and loved watching his content. We became great friends as our daughters Chloe and Liem were winning similar honors and participating in the same leadership activities. We would photograph and video each other's daughter hoping they would also become great friends. Our dreams came true when they became best friends the summer after their 8th Grade year. They are now Seniors at Lincoln Southeast High School and will be following our footsteps by attending UNL next year. They are also part of an amazing friend group with Anika Keese, Jocelyn Tisdale, and Kathleen Drummond who have been consoling Chloe during this painful time. My greatest memory with Dave is when he sent an email in Spring 2021 inviting me and three other Huskers to talk about Women's History Month but surprised us with letters from our students. Mine was from my UPC student Kaelie Kellner and the other nominees were Erynn Nicholson Butzke, Jemalyn Griffin, and Tiffany Heng-Moss. Here is the link to the VIDEO: https://youtu.be/qWurQhyTLV0. Anyone that ever met Dave was immediately drawn to his fun and caring nature and will always remember him as a kind and humble servant leader. WE MISS YOU DAVE and I will continue to celebrate Chloe on your behalf. I am sure she will continue to look at my food posts on your behalf and guess which Wills Family member is eating which meal. HA!!!

Karen Freimund Wills, UPC Nebraska Program Coordinator

The Hixson-Lied College had the pleasure of working with Fitz on a number of projects over the years. He was smart, kind, creative and the consummate professional. He had a knack for getting the perfect sound bites from his interview subjects. He was also extremely generous with his time and knowledge, always willing to answer questions and offer advice to anyone. He loved his job, and he was so good at it. He will be missed! To his family and friends, I hope you find comfort in the memories shared here. Thank you for sharing him with us. And thank you for carrying out his final selfless act of organ donation. Rest in peace, Fitz. Thank you for everything.

Kathe Andersen, Director of Communications and External Relations, Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts

Dave and I worked together at 10-11 KOLN in Lincoln. The news business can be grinding, yet Dave was always calm in the face of breaking news, or working on a tough story. He always had ideas, and suggested things to me, especially in those times when we did not have the opportunity to team up and I was reporting as a one-man band. His videography skills and his eye was something I focused on when shooting my own stories, and man, he was good enough to work for any of the major news networks if he chose to do so. But as a family man, I was never surprised he stayed in his native Nebraska. He is such a good man and I am forever grateful to have known him. Rest in peace, Fitz.

Jack Wang, Director of Communications

David Fitzgibbon you were such a giving man. You did so much to help our team and never really asked for anything in return — except the pride you took in your work. I remember calling you once with a silly idea for a drone video and you were totally game. You could have said “no, that’s too much” but you didn’t. You got us set up with B10 network and shot all kinds of great promos over the years. I am grateful for that but more to have known you. I loved your energy and enthusiasm. It was infectious. I’ll always remember how much you cared. Thank you.

Michael Burton, Assistant Prof

“Call Fitz. He’ll always help.”

I first encountered Dave 20 years ago as a very young, very green news reporter. Whenever we needed something from the University, the answer was the same: “Call Fitz. He’ll always help.” And he always did, and he was always so kind to a scared kid desperate not to mess up. I don’t remember a single specific from any of the stories, but I remember that he always made my day better.

As a University colleague over the past several years, the theme has been the same. Fitz was always willing to help, never made me feel like a burden (even when I probably was!), and always had a moment for a joke. I’ve always looked forward to days when we’d work on something together because I knew it would be fun. I’m going to miss that, and him.

“Call Fitz. He’ll always help.”

Lauren Silverman Durban, Communications Manager, Lied Center for Performing Arts

Dave was one of a kind. Working with him on projects was always fun and easy. I will smile and remember him every time I see a promotion tied to Kohl’s cash. Fitz energetically shared details about reward programs and even text to reminded me to use coupons! Not only a guy who liked a good deal, he always had a smile, shared about his kids, and was genuine in every way. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

Terri Pieper, Director, Marketing and Communication, College of Arts and Sciences

"Fitz" was truly one of a kind. As a new Dean at UNL, Dave helped me in so many ways, but most of all through his kindness, patience, and grace. I feel like I was introduced to the best of UNL and Nebraska when I met Dave, and I always cherished the opportunity to work with him. I was planning to work with him this week; but he helped so many others in his final days, and that is a lasting testament to his love and care for his neighbor. Dave will be missed greatly and he will also inspire us to do and be better for each other. Thank you to Dave's family for sharing this wise and gentle soul with all of us.

Mark Button, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Dave was very easy to work with at KOLN when I was there. I am terribly sorry for his fall. I can only say this is a tragedy and I am very sorry for the loss to us all.

Eric Knoll, Photojournalist

I didn't have many opportunities to work with Fitz but he was always a big help to me and many other communicators on east campus. He was always so professional but very down to earth friendly with everyone. He came to the University about the same time I did and I was always secretly jealous of his talents and skills. It's difficult to believe he's not with us anymore and I along with everyone else posting here will miss him.

Brad Mills, IANR Media -Backyard Farmer Producer

Dave’s spirit and grace will leave a lasting impact within the UNL community. Knowing him and working with him on various video projects for the past decade has been such an honor. Every interaction always left those around him feeling more joy and sincere kindness. It is clear his dedication to his family, work and community will leave a strong legacy for future generations. My most sincere condolences to his entire family during this difficult time.

Jemalyn, Professor, Colleague of Dave

There are some who cross your path in life who make it better, bring a smile or laugh, are generous in everything - spirit, professionalism, kindness, work. Fitz was one-of-a-kind, and will be sorely missed. My heart is heavy with his passing, but warmed by memories of every interaction with him. Thank God for the blessing he was in life, and in death, to others.

Kathy Ankerson, Executive Vice Chancellor, Former College of Architecture Dean

The only time I heard Fitz say no in more than 30 years as colleagues and friends was when he was first asked to leave his work at KOLN-TV to join UNL’s PR team. But we kept asking and are so fortunate that he finally made the change. Fitz was trusted and talented, accurate yet empathetic. Dedicated. Tireless. He was the solver of conundrums and a calm voice in the occasional choppy seas. I remember trying to write his first performance evaluation, gushing praise and feeling like I had nothing constructive to suggest except to take some time off for heavens sake.

Fitz demonstrated the power of saying yes to each of us. We all experienced that, right? It shows in the outpouring of love and gratitude that acknowledges the piece of his heart he put into every task, every friendship and every opportunity to do good things for someone else. I think of Fitz as an everyday hero whose tool of choice was kindness.

I’m so grateful for our time together. Despite the fact that Fitz’s life was truly well lived and that he’s giving life and hope to others with his final gifts, I wish we had more time with him. I wish that for Adam and Grace and Chloe and Tina. I wish it for the hundreds of others who feel the loss of a very good person. Perhaps the best we can do is carry on Fitz’s legacy of kindness. He’s shown us the way.

Phyllis Larsen, former UNL Director of Public Relations but grateful to be a friend as well

It's unreal that Dave is gone. His creativity, insight and work ethic not only helped advance the university and build our cutting-edge college, but he became a cherished friend to brainstorm new and off-the-wall ideas with, regardless if they were work related. He edited my scripts while teaching me how to be a better writer, helped me pick a color of stain for my deck, confirmed my choice of glasses, turned around videos in hours, talked to my children when they were essentially being a nuisance, always responded to my texts and emails at anytime of day (even when I was probably a nuisance), and made work fun and meaningful. He was one of a kind and we will all miss him grealty. Prayers to his family and friends!

Sheri Irwin-Gish, Executive Director of Communications, Marketing and External Relations at the College of Business

So kind, talented, funny and just the most honest, likable, lovable human. No pretenses. Always giving. I treasured how readable his emotions were on his face, right down to that little blushing on his cheeks. Reluctant leader, but true leader because his heart never wavered and was always, always in the right place. He truly lived to serve others. RIP, Fitz, knowing the gifts you gave to all around you live on.

Teresa Paulsen, former CCMO, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Edward Grew and I extend our heartfelt deepest sympathy to the family and friends of our beloved David Fitzgibbon of UNL Communications. The most wonderful and eloquent tributes are pouring in and we are all reflecting on how his sudden tragic loss reminds us that we too often take life and those around us for granted.

Dave held my hand and helped get me through the most difficult NAGPRA TV interviews in 1998 and shepherded our media relations during the 2001 repatriation to 16 Great Plains Tribes and the East Campus memorial dedication. He was an invaluable help to me as University of Nebraska State Museum - Morrill Hall Director especially with media planning for the controversial Explore Evolution exhibit and our many efforts to restore the Museum’s attendance in the aftermath of the 2003 budget cuts. Dave worked behind the scenes to be sure that the Museum always got its proper share of Huskervision spots in the Stadium each fall.

“Priscilla, of course we’ll help” - Dave

Priscilla Grew, Director Emerita, University of Nebraska State Museum

David Fitzgibbon. One of the good guys, the human beings that remind you that some things are still right with the world.

Fitz wasn’t a transactional person. Even when you were working on transactional things with him, it could turn in a minute to family, feelings and the meaning of life. These conversations reflected who he was—open, generous with his interest and advice, and authentic. Every interaction was meaningful in some way. There was always a deep personal thread in the things Fitz did. And it was never forced, or disingenuous. He just sincerely cared about you and wanted the best for you.

He noticed the little things. He was like a human encyclopedia—about the university, where he’d worked for 25 years. About how to fix or solve almost anything—he was a practical MacGyver. Or about something you said six months ago that you had forgotten about.

He was always helping people. Certainly at work, as part of his job. He was one of the most dependable people I know; you could always count on things to be done on time, on budget, and for it to be excellent to boot. But also personally. It was never a bother for him, even though he was a busy man.

And he was thoughtful. I graduated from UNL last May with my master’s degree in educational administration and my husband graduated with his MBA. Fitz was there filming commencement. He edited together a video of both us graduating as a surprise gift. It was one of the nicest things someone has done for me, unprompted and unexpected.

These are only a few of the reasons I will miss him—as a colleague, as a friend, and as a human. He was steady, kind, generous and warm. As a mutual friend said, “Fitz had the magic pixie dust of being universally liked.”

But for now, it just feels like a light has gone off. The world seems a little bit off-kilter. He was, as Maya Angelou describes in her poem, “When Great Trees Fall,” a great soul. She writes, “Great souls die and our reality, bound to them, takes leave of us.” Time has stopped for a moment—for me and for many people who cared about and loved Fitz.

Jackie Ostrowicki, AVP, External Relations, NU System — Colleague and Friend

To say Fitz’s passing is crushing is putting it mildly. He always went above and beyond for the College of Architecture, the university, our students, his colleagues and his family. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Fitz and Curt over the years on so many projects. I will always warmly remember the video shoots, the laughs and the camaraderie. Fitz was a great mentor, teacher and friend. Praying for comfort, healing and peace to the whole Fitzgibbon family!

Kerry Vondrak, College of Architecture Director of Communications

Fitz and I worked together for 9 years plus a few projects for Collegebound Nebraska a couple years earlier even though I wasn’t at Ucomm yet. We’ve collaborated on countless events, initiatives, brand launches, brand anthems, PSAs and the list goes on.

We worked together to create the intro/outro of every single video we’ve done for 9 years and I remember how careful and thoughtful Fitz was to maintain brand consistency on all of them. He even told me once when I was creating assets for him, “wow, you’re fast!” But honestly his editing skills were equally as fast in comparison, if not faster!

I remember how several times we’d talk about weekends and vacation time and how he always used them to help others. There truly was no time off for him ever, or so it seemed, yet he’d joyfully speak of those times. How I wished I could hear what he did this past weekend when we came back to the office.

Most of all, I remember you, the thoughtful, caring and super talented “Fitz”! I can honestly say I have not worked with someone as calm, collected and willing to do things you were somewhat uncomfortable with without getting upset (although you’d question the need for several of those things!).

This is a great loss to your family, the university, Ucomm and to me. Goodbye friend! You’ll never be forgotten.

Marcelo Plioplis, University Communication colleague

I've known of Fitz for a number of years and throughout this week as I've witnessed remembrance after remembrance of him all I could do is shake my head, yes, yes, yes to everything everyone was saying and writing. I feel so fortunate to have been able to spend the little snippet of time with him that I did, but I will carry it with me forever.

Brian Reetz, Communications Coordinator and Executive Specialist for the Office of the VCBF

In the film The Wizard of Oz, the Wizard hands a red heart to the Tin Man and says, “And remember, my sentimental friend, that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”

Using that metric, the hundreds of anguished messages on David Fitzgibbon’s Facebook page, and on the pages and social media of his family and other friends, David was beloved. An understatement to say beloved.

Yes, he was creative, a hard worker, a wonderful colleague, a diplomat, a storyteller, hilarious, smart. But bigger than that he was a kind, compassionate decent fellow who fiercely loved his family and friends. A Dave hallmark was his willingness to help anyone, even a stranger. That was memorable.

So many feel he was their very best friend. In every interaction with him, he made me feel I was his best friend. Why? Because to Dave, everyone mattered. He gave each of us his full attention when ever we were interacting. He lived in our moment; he rejoiced at our successes. He did not judge our failures.

The late Otis Young, senior minister emeritus at First-Plymouth Church, used to say in his benediction “Find your joy in serving others.” David lived that. He constantly refilled his bucket by filling others’ buckets with praise, encouragement, kindness, attention.

A lesson for us: when confronted with a problem, whether it’s an ethical dilemma, or just how to figure out a task, ask yourself, “What would Dave Fitzgibbon do?” Because the answer to that is that kindness, generosity, compassion, bold love is always the right course.

Farewell gentle man. You made an impact. You mattered.

Kim Hachiya, Former Colleague and, more importantly, friend

I had the pleasure of being part of the University Communication (then Public Relations) staff that welcomed Fitz to UNL in 1998. He was a talented and always-professional colleague, to start with. But there was a lot, a whole lot, more to Dave. The idea of "servant leadership" would often come to mind as one witnessed the little unsung things that Dave did in life to support everyone else. However important he became to our UComm efforts and to UNL as a whole, for instance, Dave never found the simple tasks of office cohabitation to be beneath him. If the recycling in the kitchen had been overflowing, and suddenly was pleasantly empty again, you could bet Fitz had been there. If the office phone and network jacks needed inventorying, Dave would volunteer to crawl the floors, shining a light on those tiny labels. If a neighbor or a friend needed a little help to clear fallen branches or fix a sink and Dave heard about it, it was as good as done. Dave was one of the best humans I've known, setting an example every day of his life, and in the last act of his life, for all of us.

Bob Crisler, Colleague and Friend

Jane and I have been literally struggling all week to find adequate words to describe "Fitz" and the huge hole in our and UNL's collective hearts that his much too soon departure from this world leaves. Caring, calm, consistent, compassionate, principled, "lean" in every respect, exceptional, funny and fun, enabling, so proud of his family, and one who could do more with less than anyone I knew -- including in this final chapter giving and enabling of so much life beyond himself. We will forever treasure the last "shoot" that we did with Fitz and Curt in our home on December 19, 2022. It was a particularly hard one for us emotionally - that, as always, only Fitz could have gotten so right, been so encouraging, and made so extraordinarily special. Rest In Peace, friend and colleague, and keep telling stories like only you can do on "the other side". Comfort, prayers, gratitude, and blessings to Adam, Grace, Chloe, and Tina.

Ronnie and Jane Green, Chancellor, Senior Vice Chancellor, IANRVC

Dave was fantastic. The first thing I'd note is that Dave was great at his job. He was so creative and talented and a joy to work with. However, for Dave, this is only a small, almost trivial part of his story.

The real thing I knew about Fitz is that he was a one in a million human being. He was kind and generous to a magnitude that is so very rare. I know many people who will help you when you ask them. However, with Fitz, he would find ways to be helpful. Usually he would help you in areas where you didn't even know you needed help. That was so very special.

The last time I saw Fitz we talked about a picture he took of me 20 years earlier in both our careers. We had a news story break and Fitz called me up. He dashed over and took a great picture and we decided we would always have that memory between us. We talked about our families and our kids. I have a tear in my eye as I type this knowing that his memory and some photos and videos is all we have now.

I fear I won't meet another person like Fitz. I will miss him. Dave was fantastic.

Shane Farritor, Friend and colleague

It's unimaginable to consider a world or university without Fitz. He was our grit and our glory and set the highest bar for human kindness, hard work, and true care for everyone he met and everything he did. Adam, Grace and Chloe - you are each the legacy of whom he was the most proud. You, your Mom, Grandma Kip, Aunt Cheri, cousins, etc. have all of our love.

Mike Zeleny, Friend and colleague of Dave

To say that Fitz is a beloved member of our UComm family, and of the entire UNL family, is an understatement. We could all finish so many statements with ‘only Fitz would….’ or ‘only Fitz could….’ I keep coming back to – only Fitz could leave a hole so big and so deep that it feels like it can never be filled.

Deb Fiddelke, Chief Communication & Marketing Officer, UNL

I was so lucky to work with Fitz at UNL for close to 25 years! We did so many fun things, brand releases, dedications, press releases and so many donor events. Fitz was the hardest and most passionate person I ever worked with, he would always go the extra mile to make the video an extra special memory for students, faculty, staff and donors a like.

Corrie Svehla, Special Events Technical Production / Friend of Dave

I've known Dave for 15 years, ever since I began working at UNL. He always somehow balanced the perfect blend of professionalism while also exuding such unbridled joy in all he did and in his interactions with others. A few weeks ago, I emailed him about some old video-related equipment we inherited to see if he wanted it: a giant green screen, some slightly tattered light covers and bulbs. Not 15 minutes later he was at my door all the way across campus, so excited to see what we had. He took it all, including a heavy tripod missing some parts. He left with his new "toys," and I remember feeling that, during that 30 minutes, I was the most important person to him. That was one of his many gifts: sharing a contagious enthusiasm for life and for always focusing in the moment in those connections with others – no matter how long or how brief. He was so talented but most of all, he was a truly amazing human being who has inspired me to treat others with that same dedication and kindness.

JS Engebretson, Communications and Marketing Manager, College of Engineering

Fitz: Shorthand for a talented, proactive, calm, creative, engaging, fun, productive guy you can always count on to do the right thing and to do things right.

Whether it was in the KOLN TV newsroom in the 1980’s or in University Communications for the last quarter century, Fitz was Fitz. Always. Fitz was one of those colleagues who just made hard things look easy. And he brought that sort of energy that was always so uplifting. Challenges just melted in front of Fitz, his creative eye and his ‘can-do’ heart. Fitz no doubt enjoyed his work immensely, and put everyone instantly at ease, even as he pointed a camera at them, and even in the most intense ‘newsy’ situations. He was the guide, the navigator, the creator, the producer extraordinaire, bursting with talent and overflowing with good will for everyone. He created a gigantic body of video work that stands up to the best of the best to inform, motivate and inspire. Fitz’s work energized the University of Nebraska, making it more understood, more important in people’s lives and more beloved. That’s nothing short of amazing.

Our Fitz. He was the one who would always make things better, do things better, make everyone around him better.

I was so fortunate to work with Fitz for so many years, and never heard one word of complaint. Rather he was a fount of a grounded mix of realism and optimism.

Now, as we think about Fitz and his life with us, we think about how we can best honor him and thank him for all he was and is. I think we already know the answer. Do what Fitz would do. Do the kindest, most proactive, creative, more-than-expected thing you can do for everyone in your midst.

What a beautiful life, example and message to all of us who will treasure our remembrances of our time with him for the rest of our lives. Even as our hearts are breaking, even through tears, I’m guessing you can’t say “Fitz” without a smile crossing your lips. Pure sunshine.

Meg Lauerman, former director, University Communications
Portrait of David Fitzgibbon with a video camera and dramatic lighting.