Jo Anne Van Mort-Fitzgerald

Date Submitted: 7/28/03

Jo Anne writes:

I married Fred Fitzgerald (Class of 1954) in 1958. We have two grown children, Mike, who works for Qwest, and Sue, an attorney. We have one grandchild, Shane, who will be a freshman in high school this fall.

I have a Bachelor of Arts in History from Mount Vernon Nazarene College. I spent many years doing antique shows in Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, and loved every minute of it. Tiring of the traveling, I decided to try substitute teaching. That was hard work so I talked the editor of the local paper into hiring me as a reporter and found the passion of my life. Unfortunately, the editor insisted that I do hard news and get my facts straight, so I humored him, but what I really loved was writing feature articles. There are so many interesting people around and each has a story worth telling. In fact, I am terrific at interviewing others but found it difficult to write this bio. I suppose I should have interviewed myself and then this whole thing would have been more interesting.

Since retirement I have been taking fiction-writing classes at Ohio State University. I also stumbled my way through a poetry-writing class, which confirmed the fact that I am no poet. Although OSU did publish one of my poems, it was the short story that drew me, that seemed so simple, until I tried writing one or two ... or three or four. I have lots of drawers filled with half-written stories. It is always easier to start another than to fix a broken one. I had illusions of becoming another Flannery O’Connor or Annie Proulx in my old age and instead I seem to be a pathetic Erma Bombeck.

Enough. Have to get back to my writing. My latest hero is Muzzy Kappel, who has wart-infested fingers and pumps a person’s hand up and down, up and down, in greeting. Muzzy wears brass belt buckles as big as foot-stomped beer cans and lives with his wizened-up old wife named Wilda, who is meaner than a ditch full of rattlesnakes…(must be I’m in my Annie Proulx phase again).

I was ill when the Class of ’56 had its 45th anniversary but Marilyn Roslinski and Rose Campbell were kind enough to send me photos. I recognized few of the people until I got the list of who was who, although I knew immediately that all those people were characters I definitely wanted to interview.

My email address is

See the rest of the Class of 1956