Obituary: David Lee Fitzgibbon, "Fitz"

Thursday, January 26, 2023 - 2:45pm

Generous. Kind. Authentic. Always lending a helping hand. One of the good guys who exemplified what’s right in the world.

David Lee Fitzgibbon, “Fitz”, 57, brought the best of himself to every situation. He made everyone who knew him feel like a close friend. It was hard not to smile when he was around. There was just something about his nature that made people happy and at ease. He really listened to what you had to say and was genuinely interested and present.

Born in Chadron, Nebraska on April 14, 1965, his family moved to Scottsbluff in 1970. He loved spending childhood summers with his Aunt Cheri and cousins, Kevin and Kyle, on their farm near Tobias. Life on the farm was fun for him, but it didn’t always agree with him. He had allergies which presented some challenges. In fact, one time he got thrown into a horse tank after having an allergic reaction.

David always had a soft spot for those who needed a friend or a hand. He invited the foreign exchange student to prom, even though he hated dancing. He even took Tina to prom despite having graduated the year before. However, there was a back story. He only agreed to take her because he already owned a tux that he had previously purchased on a really good sale; after all, it was cheaper than renting. His quest for the best deals started young.

A renowned deal-seeker, David was especially fond of educating others about the rebate program at Menards, venturing to Runza with his kids on nearly every Temperature Tuesday, and being at the ready to provide Consumer Reports reviews (upon request) when friends were considering major purchases.

He must have also found an incredible travel deal because he toured through Europe after high school. Unfortunately, his camera and all of his film were stolen in Italy, so he had to commit the experience to memory. As part of his tour, he also visited distant relatives in Finland and discovered the joy of rolling around in the snow after leaving a sauna.

He graduated from Scottsbluff Senior High School in 1983. David’s photography and journalism career began in high school as editor of the Scottsbluff Senior High School newspaper and continued that role at the paper at Nebraska Western Community College (WNCC). He graduated from WNCC in 1985 as “Most Outstanding” graduate. He continued his education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). He graduated magna cum laude in 1987 with two journalism degrees. He put his skills to work as a videographer for the news department at KOLN-KGIN TV (10/11) in Lincoln where he was chief photographer for 11 years. He collaborated with Mary Jane Bruce on several video specials which won national awards.

He left the news business after having to settle his wife and baby son in the basement at home and then head to Pinewood Bowl to shoot video of a live tornado. Something about running into a potentially deadly situation with a wife and child at home didn’t set well. Soon after, he moved on to the UNL’s communication department, where he built a 25-year career telling the stories of leading University Communication and Marketing’s videography team. Through his work (most recently as a member of the “Dream Team” with Curt Bright and the recently retired Mary Jane Bruce), Fitz was responsible for creating thousands of UNL videos. His work ranged from developing the university’s national television advertisements to heralding individual student achievements.

During his tenure, Fitz worked directly with three chancellors and hundreds of deans, directors and other campus leaders, sharing their messages with Huskers near and far. He remained dedicated to elevating the university’s reputation in whatever way possible, serving as the university’s primary conduit to international productions and TV networks (including BTN) that sought to film on campus.

A few of his more notable projects include advocating for the positive potential in “Tommy Lee Goes to College,” helping a Hollywood film crew convert the Coliseum in Los Angeles into a replica of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium for Jim Carrey’s “Yes Man,” and magically placing then-Chancellor Harvey Perlman into a one-on-one conversation with Tonight Show host and Nebraska alumnus Johnny Carson.

Fitz’s calming presence and institutional knowledge were relied upon daily by colleagues across campus. Happiest when working in the background, David was beloved for his endless energy, welcoming smile and willingness to always go the extra mile in everything he did — be that working a weekend to finish a project, hauling the university’s “Grit” and “Glory” signs across campus, or consistently being the first to volunteer whenever friends or colleagues needed a helping hand.

That giving spirit continues beyond death, as David was an organ and tissue donor. His liver, lungs, both kidneys, heart valves, corneas, and skin will save or improve the lives of more than 20 people. It’s quite fitting that his final act of generosity will benefit strangers. He would have found the process of organ donation fascinating, asking a multitude of questions to get details that no one else would think to ask about.

His friendship and giving extended well beyond work hours as he loved serving as a host to others. He was known to often cook gourmet meals for his extended family, opening his home to celebratory events (including birthdays for his beloved Westie pup, Lucy), and even hosting the occasional cooking competition. He was a party host extraordinaire, thoroughly enjoying gatherings of friends and family no matter the occasion or no occasion at all. David was also a very capable do-it-yourselfer. Some might even say MacGyver-esk.

David was always helping people. He regularly travelled across the state of Nebraska to Scottsbluff to help his mother, Kip, with house projects. He also helped his in-laws, Myron and Brigette Loseke, with their move to Lincoln driving a U-Haul with their worldly goods from Scottsbluff to Lincoln, and then six weeks later he drove another U-Haul from Lincoln to Seattle to help Adam get settled in his new city.

David wasn’t immune to loss in his life. Tragedy struck at just 15 when he lost his ten-year-old brother, Eric­­. Most recently, he lost his dad, Larry whom he cared for during Larry’s last year of life. But David didn’t allow those losses to define him.

David left this world on Friday afternoon, January 20, 2023. He is survived by his wife, Tina Loseke; children, Adam (27), Grace (23), and Chloe (17); mother, Kip Fitzgibbon; Aunt Cheri; cousins, Kyle and Kevin, and their families; father- and mother-in-law, Myron and Brigitte Loseke. A multitude of friends and colleagues join the family in mourning this tragic loss. Preceding him in death were his grandparents, father, Larry, and younger brother, Eric.

A celebration of life is scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. January 29, 2023, at the Van Brunt Visitors Center, 313 North 13th Street in Lincoln. The celebration will include comments by family and friends at 3 p.m. A live stream will be available for those unable to attend in person.

A scholarship is being set up with the University of Nebraska Foundation to benefit students in the College of Journalism. David's generous, helpful nature to build up and equip young journalists will continue for many years to come. Donations in memory of David may be sent to the University of Nebraska Foundation, 1010 Lincoln Mall, Suite 300, Lincoln, NE 68508. Please make checks payable to the University of Nebraska Foundation and include on the memo line or enclosed note that the gift is in memory of Dave Fitzgibbon.

One of his friends relayed that, “Fitz had the magic pixie dust of being universally liked.” When thinking of David, A.A. Milne says it best, "how lucky we are that makes saying goodbye so hard". We are ALL better for knowing you, Fitz. Even those who knew you only for a moment. You’re the best of the best. You’ll never be forgotten, friend.

David Lee Fitzgibbon,