Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 3:09 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 3:09 p.m.
Peter Marshall Fitzgerald, 79, died at his Petaluma home on Feb. 18, leaving behind a loving family and a rich legacy of entrepreneurial endeavors, volunteerism and eclectic interests.
“He was a completely creative mind in a business way,” said his wife of 15 years, Pat Fitzgerald, who described him as “a self-made man in every sense of the word.”
Mr. Fitzgerald was born in Spokane, raised in Seattle, and relocated to the Bay Area where he received a PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He began his career as an engineer and later became co-founder and president of Stanford Telecommunications, Inc., where he helped develop global positioning system, or GPS, technology. He later left Silicon Valley for Sonoma County, where he pursued teaching and lecturing internationally, helping to start a business school in Estonia after the Iron Curtain came down.
When Mr. Fitzgerald retired about 30 years ago, he bought 100 acres in Healdsburg and acquired a herd of sheep to keep the grass down, gaining much enjoyment from tending them.
He and his wife bought a house in Petaluma about 20 years ago, and Fitzgerald became involved in many local causes: he attended the Petaluma leadership program, was for some years a member of the Petaluma Yacht Club and the Friends of the Petaluma River, and even was employed for a stint at the Petaluma Adobe.
“He always loved history,” Pat Fitzgerald said.
She said one of the accomplishments he was most proud of was a home he built on the San Juan Islands. “He was raised in Washington, and he loved that island,” she said. “He loved being able to spend the last part of his life up there.”
Family was a priority for him, and unconditional love and support of family was a value he placed above all else, Fitzgerald said.
Marshall is survived by his wife Pat, his former wife Claire, his sister Louise, five children, eleven grandchildren, three stepchildren and four step grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at the Petaluma Sheraton Hotel on Saturday, March 2 from 2 to 5 p.m.
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