Sean was born at the Air Force Academy Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colorado on April 25th, 1972. It snowed the day after. He was an unusual and beautiful child all at the same time. He walked at nine months old and figured out how to open the latch on the fence so he could wander on his own before he was a toddler. Sean attended preschool and Kindergarten in Rochester, Minnesota while his dad completed his medical residency at the Mayo Clinic. By first grade Sean was again living in Colorado Springs and attended Steele Elementary and moved to the HATS Program, for High Academically Talented Students at Stratton Elementary and Horace Mann Junior High.
To send flowers in memory of Sean Alden Fitzgerald, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.
In ninth grade Sean took on the challenges of attending Colorado Rocky Mountain School, a boarding school in Carbondale, Colorado. Along with rigorous academics this school is located on a ranch that was worked by the students. He also participated in daily outdoor sports and perfected his telemark skiing and mountain biking.
Sean delayed attendance at The University of Colorado in Boulder, deciding he wanted to see the world before attending college. He spent the next season tuning skis in a Breckenridge, Colorado ski shop. With the money he saved, he took off in March 1991 for his trip around the world, stopping first in Vermont where he competed and placed in the top ten at the world's telemark competition. He then flew to Finland to visit a high school friend, followed by train trips throughout Europe, France, Italy, Germany, making friends along the way. Sean then flew to Tokyo, Japan where he tutored English as a second language for several months. Communication with home was scarce and his eight-month adventure ended with a call to mom and dad to come get him from the Colorado Springs Greyhound Bus Station.
Sean was a film buff extraordinaire and first attended CU Boulder to study filmmaking. However, following his time in Japan, he declared his major as Japanese Literature. He could always be found with stacks of Kanji flashcards that he had to learn in order to read a Japanese newspaper. He graduated with honors in December 1995.
Sean continued his studies in Japanese Literature attending the master’s program at the University of Pennsylvania as a teaching fellow. During that year he met Atsuko Ueda, who was studying abroad from Sophia University in Japan. In March of 1998 he and Atsuko married in Philadelphia. He completed his master’s degree and all course work for his PhD.
He and Atsuko next moved to Eugene Oregon where Atsuko worked at the University of Oregon for five years and where their son Ciaran was born in April of 2001. Sean was a stay at home dad. During this time Sean cared for Ciaran, starting him in baseball and soccer, teaching him to plant a garden and lots of cooking. Later the family moved back to Colorado and Atsuko worked at the University of Denver while Sean continued to care for Ciaran full time. In January of 2008 the family ventured off to Mae Sot, in northern Thailand where Atsuko took a role at a nonprofit medical clinic at the Burmese border.
In November 2008 Sean was hospitalized in Thailand after a bicycle accident from which he suffered a severe head injury and several broken vertebrae. His father flew to Thailand to understand his injuries and bring Sean home to Colorado to heal. Sean came home with his known physical injuries but in a complicated and frightening, paranoid, delusional state. Despite treatment efforts, Sean had a psychotic break and murdered a person he adored, his father Edward M. Fitzgerald. Sean was jailed as his psychosis continued and slowly his case made its way through the criminal justice system. In September 2009, there was a trial and Sean was found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity and sentenced to the State Hospital in Pueblo.
Sean spent the next ten years trying to find a way to forgive the actions of his body that was controlled by his broken mind on that one night. He had many successes including periods in which he lived on his own in the community, starting a small business and engaging in many strong friendships all while being monitored by the State Hospital and court system. Sean’s last Christmas was spent with his whole family who was together for the holiday for the first time in ten years.
Overall, what was most important to Sean was maintaining and strengthening his relationship with his son Ciaran. Ciaran travelled to Colorado in the summers and for some Christmases and would spend as much time with Sean as was allowed. He loved to brag about all of Ciaran’s successes and adventures, including Ciaran’s May 2019 graduation from the American School in Japan, a prestigious high school in Tokyo where he has lived with his mom for the last seven years.
Despite Sean’s immense intelligence, kindness and successes and the support and never-ending love of his family and friends, Sean’s mental illness won, and he died by suicide on June 3, 2019.
Son Ciaran, age 18
Ex-wife, Atsuko (Allison) Ueda Fitzgerald
Mother, Kim Mary Fitzgerald and Significant Other William Ohs
Father, in absentia, Edward M. Fitzgerald
Sister, Alison Fitzgerald Andrews, husband Greg and son, Quinn
Brother, Ross Edward Fitzgerald and wife Virginia Goldman, sons Jack and Edward
Uncle, Walter Fitzgerald and wife Jeanne
Aunt, Catharine Wells and daughter Erica
In lieu of flowers donations can be made in Sean's name to:
Colorado Mental Health - Mental Health Colorado is the state’s leading advocate for the prevention and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. We are a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and an affiliate of Mental Health America.
ONLINE: https://www.mentalhealthcolorado.org/donate-now/ (please include a note that the donation is in memory of Sean at bottom of online form)
BY MAIL: Mental Health Colorado Attn: Kay Greene 1120 Lincoln St., Ste. 1606 Denver, CO 80203 (please make a note that the donation is in Sean's memory)
BY PHONE: Director of Development, Kay Greene, at 720.208.2239
Or please make a contribution to Sean's son Ciaran's college fund (starting Boston University in August!)
online go to ugift529.com and use Ugift code P4D-V5C to direct to Ciaran Fitzgerald's account.