Mary Eleanor Hitselberger
Mary Eleanor Hitselberger passed away on Oct. 3, 2023. Born Aug. 14, 1931, in Charlottesville, VA, she was the eldest child of Dr. Garth Fitzhugh, Ph.D., and his wife Mary, daughter of Dr. Emmett and Ada (McCallum) Boaz of Covesville, VA. Mary Hitselberger lived to age 92, coincidently the exact longevity she expressed many years before might be sufficient and desirable.
About the time Mary turned two, her family moved to Burlington, where her father taught pharmacology at the University of Vermont. Three years later they moved to Nashville, TN, where he taught at Vanderbilt’s School of Medicine. In 1939 her family settled in Kensington, MD, where her father would begin a distinguished career with the Food and Drug Administration.
She graduated from Bethesda Chevy Chase High School. During high school, she delivered newspapers for the Washington Post. For two years she attended the University of Maryland, where she joined the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority. Her summer employment at the George Washington Hospital in Washington, D.C., where she was a nursing assistant in the newborn care unit, was a prelude to much that followed. The next year she attended Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, where she was awarded a B.S. and degree in nursing. She was a head nurse and an instructor in nursing at Johns Hopkins when she met James F. Hitselberger, M.D. He was the son of Lt. Col. James F. Hitselberger, Sr., and his wife Helen (Miller), formerly of La Crosse, WI, and, at that time, was a medical student.
They were married in 1955 at the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Chevy Chase, MD. They spent five years in Detroit, MI, where she was a registered nurse and Dr. Hitselberger trained in Internal Medicine and Dermatology at the Henry Ford Hospital. In 1961 they moved to Fond du Lac, WI, where he joined the Fond du Lac Clinic. He was the first dermatologist in Fond du Lac.
In Fond du Lac they raised their four children and provided attentively and lovingly for their upbringing and education. Like her father, Mary was always eager to learn about history. She read voraciously and quickly. The distance to her parent’s home outside Washington, D.C., did not prevent her family from gathering often. There, she and her siblings, and her children and their cousins, explored the museums and the monuments and other locations throughout the area that memorialize the formation of our country. Mary was a Fond du Lac Medical Auxiliary member and volunteered at the blood bank and at St. Mary’s Elementary School. She enjoyed gardening.
Active in the Fond du Lac Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, serving in several capacities, including its Regent, she enjoyed assisting others who wished to research their ancestry. She was a member of other genealogical and historical societies too numerous to name.
When her son inquired about his ancestry, as part of a seventh-grade, homework assignment, she teased a bit and said that he might be her little mongrel. In fact, she knew her ancestry and would share with her inquisitive boy how embedded those who preceded him were in the American experience. In every ancestral line, her immigrant ancestor preceded the American Revolution. Several were adventurers and planters in early colonial America. One came from England in one of the three ships that arrived in Jamestown in 1607.
She was the co-compiler of Bridge in Time, the complete 1850 Census of Frederick County, MD. Census records were not indexed then as they are now. The Maryland Historical Society recognized her achievement; she was the winner of the 1978-1979 Morris Harris Genealogical Source Record Contest.
Mary and her husband traveled. Since he was a master scuba diver, many destinations were warm and sandy, but other adventures were certainly off or before the beaten path. For example, they first set foot in China when the sight of an American there was a novelty. Many times they explored other countries,
driven by their interests in culture and history. Incidental opportunities to visit museums were not overlooked, such as London’s British Museum, Paris’ Louvre, Cairo’s Egyptian Antiquities, or St. Petersburg’s Hermitage. During various periods of their lives, their routine would include regular jaunts to the Fall colors in Minocqua, the beaches and fauna of Kauai, or the ski slopes of Vail. Also, in three separate, memorable trips, Mary and her two sisters wandered England, Ireland, and Scotland in a rental car.
Survivors: her four children, James of Ontonagon, MI; Mary of Fond du Lac, WI; Garth, J.D., of Hillsboro, WI; and Joseph of Louisville, KY; brother William Fitzhugh, M.D. (Marianne) and sister Betsy Hayes (Robert, dec’d); and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband on Aug. 17, 2016; and sister Ann Stubbs (Joseph, M.D., dec’d). Further, she is survived by her three sisters-in-law: Mary Manno (Joseph, Ph.D.), Margaret Harmon, Ph.D. (Murl, dec’d), and Dorothy Funkhouser (Karl, dec’d). She was preceded in death by her brothers-in-law: Joseph, J.D. (Helen, dec’d), William, M.D. (Sue), Thomas (Margie, dec’d), and Charles, J.D. (Judy, dec’d).
Visitation: The family will receive relatives and friends on Saturday, October 14, 2023, at the Zacherl Funeral Home, 875 E. Division St., Fond du Lac, from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Mary will be buried beside her husband in Charlottesville, VA.