Joseph Leo FitzPatrick was born on September 9, 1935 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The son of Kathleen (McTague) and Leo FitzPatrick, he spent his formative years in Havertown, PA. He died on June 6, 2017, surrounded by his cherished family and friends.

Joe graduated with a B.A. in English from Villanova University, where he was the Sports editor for the University Newspaper. Joe earned a Masters Degree in English from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Delaware.

He started his teaching career at Norfolk Catholic High School in Norfolk, VA, and held subsequent teaching positions at George Read School in New Castle, Delaware; Stanton Junior High School in Stanton, Delaware; and Brandywine High School in Wilmington, Delaware. He later took on the expanded role of Director of Language Arts and Foreign Languages for the Brandywine School District.

Following his retirement from Brandywine, he stayed actively engaged in the education reform movement, and served as a consultant on best teaching practices throughout the country. Among his proudest professional legacies was the ongoing mentorship that he provided to so many of his students throughout the years. He was an Adjunct Professor of Education at the University of Delaware for many years.

An avid sports enthusiast, Joe was founder and Co-Captain of the charity cycling team - Team Zipperheart. Together with his team comprised of family and friends, he proudly raised funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Delaware.
Joe was a lifelong fan of Villanova Basketball, as well as the Philadelphia Phillies and Philadelphia Eagles. He was also a spirited sideline fan and coach of the teams on which his children and grandchildren participated.

Known for his terrific sense of humor and appreciation of people and pets alike (ok, dogs), he most loved spending time with friends and family. He was a quick wit, and readily offered a string of puns to those around him.

Among his most important personal legacies was his deep love for, and commitment to, his wife Beth, as well as the strength and character embodied in his children, grandchildren, and his many wonderful friends who were a valued part of his extended family.

Joe was predeceased by his parents, Kathleen and Leo, and his brother Daniel. He is survived by his wife, Beth (Elizabeth); his son Joseph Leo, Jr. (Deanna); his daughter Mary Kate (Jeffrey Purcell); and his daughter Margaret Mary "Maggie" (Mary McBride), his stepsons Andreas Theodore Sonju (Gretchen); and Roald William Sonju; his grandchildren Caitlin Claire and Kelsey Virginia FitzPatrick; Anneliese Marguerite and Bridget Alison Sonju; and Alyosha Tristan Sonju.

Joe was an active parishioner at the Church of the Ascension, where he served on the Vestry and was Junior and then Senior Warden. He was a Lay Eucharistic Visitor, a Lay Reader, and a Communion Assistant.

Joe’s funeral service will be held at Church of the Ascension on Saturday, June 10 with a visiting hour beginning at 10:00am, and the service at 11:00am. His ashes will be interred in the Ascension Memorial Garden. A luncheon will be served in the Parish Hall following the service. The Church of Ascension is located at 3717 Philadelphia Pike, Claymont. All are welcome.

In lieu of flowers, please make contributions in Joe’s memory to the Church of the Ascension, 3717 Philadelphia Pike, Claymont, DE 19703 and/or to the Compassionate Care Hospice, 405 E. Marsh Lane, Suite 4, Newport, DE 19804 and/or the MS Society of Greater Delaware Valley, 30 South 17th St., Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19103. Messages of condolence may be sent to