The white El Camino pulls up and parks at the top of the Garden. Its cargo bed is loaded with plants; bright red and yellow flowers, pots of basil and rosemary, and starters of peppers and tomatoes. Behind the wheel is a handsome older gentleman, white haired and smiling. Ed Fitzgerald, ambassador to the Alta Vista Botanical Gardens.
Everyone connected to the Gardens knew Ed. Friendly, sincere and outgoing, he built relationships and promoted the Garden’s mission of connecting people, art and nature. Ed was a member of the Garden Board, serving with diplomacy and respect.
He attended all the Garden events, greeting guests and coordinating activities. He was an emissary in the community, recruiting sponsors and donors.
Ed lived a full and rewarding life. Raised in Friant, California, Ed was drafted into the military in 1963. He served his time, receiving a Marksmanship award. Once discharged, he moved to Paris to accept a job with the Army and Air Force Exchange System. In that most romantic of cities, he met his wife and soul mate, Eva. They raised two children, Myrian and Jean-Jacques, and welcomed four grandchildren.
Ed spent more than 30 years with AAFES, serving the military in assignments around the globe: Vietnam, France, Germany and Japan. He had a passion for traveling and discovering new cultures. He was respected as a leader and always eager to learn
In 1994, he and Eva bought a house in Vista and made it their retirement home. They loved the warm weather and the beaches. He turned his interest to horticulture. Ed became active in the Alta Vista Botanical Gardens and Mira Costa Horticultural Society.
If you were lucky enough to have a conversation with Ed, you would have heard one of his stories. He might have told about picking cotton in the central valley as a teen. He made his dad drop him off in the early morning when the bolls were wet with dew. He was paid by the pound, and dew made them weigh more.
Or he might have talked about his experience opening an Armed Services PX in Belgium. Or perhaps, you’d have gotten a bit of good gardening advice. Ed loved talking about and sharing his passion for horticulture.
Ed had all the qualities of a successful ambassador. He enjoyed interacting with people of all ages and backgrounds. He had a sense of humor and a sense of curiosity. He was genuinely generous.
He was loved and respected by the Garden community.
We will miss that El Camino, filled with gifts for the garden.