PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, JULY 24, 2011) — THE PLANET would like to extend our condolences to Jane Fitzpatrick, daughters Nancy and Anne, plus the entire family on the loss of the family patriach, Jack.

THE PLANET feels this loss on many levels, the deepest of which is the “personal.” Suffice it to say that God’s heaven has just gotten richer in its embrace of such a warm and generous man.

The Valenti Family Became Part of the Fitzpatrick Family

My family owes much to Jane and Jack Fitzpatrick, beginning when Jane started Country Curtains in her kitchen back in the mid-1950s. Without that company, my wife, Mrs. Planet, does not enter its employ in 1983. She began working as a customer service rep, taking orders over the phone. The company — a family run business in the best and progressive sense of the phrase — knew talent and provided opportunity.

When Mrs. Planet left Country Curtains 27 years later, she was their senior marketing analyst, working intimately with the CEO, president, and the executive staff in helping the company analyze streams of data and plans future campaigns.

She flourished in a workplace furnished with antiques and gilded with camaraderie. She took with her a lifetime of friends who morphed from business colleagues into family. She also had the material benefits of a generous compensation, a stock option program, and profit sharing made possible by the Fitzpatrick’s generosity. In fact, shortly after The Fitzpatrick Companies announced the stock and profit sharing reoganization, Jack appeared as a guest on my talk show. We spent one of the most enjoyable hours of my broadcasting career.

An Association Becomes a Bond

THE PLANET got to know Jack Fitzpatrick during the 27 years of my wife’s employment there, plus the nearly three years subsequent. We were included in Tanglewood get-togethers and other company functions. Jack generously gave us the use of his condo in Killington, Vermont, of which we availed ourselves for many years. By virtue of my wife’s job, we will forever consider ourselves a part of the Fitzpatrick family.

THE PLANET’s most cherished times with Jack, however, came when we would have a chance meeting, usually at the Red Lion Inn, Elm Street Market, or somewhere in town. We laughed, joked, needled, and sometimes “talked shop.” Our topics covered a wide range from politics to sports, books to journalism.

We came to cherish his standard greeting. Upon seeing me, Jack would say in his affectly (and effectively) gruff manner: “Are you staying out of trouble”? We loved it. He would roar with laughter when we gave our usual (and expected) reply: “No!”

“Good,” Jack would reply. “That’s the way it should be. Make sure you keep them stirred up.”

‘The gesture meant, ” love you.” He took it as such’

We won’t go on and on with this tribute. We will recommend the fine obit published today by the Berkshire Eagle. We will close on the final time I saw Jack Fitzpatrick, this spring.

He had not been well and had been in hospitals for a while before being allowed go home to his manor on Prospect Hill. On his first night being allowed out of the home, he and Jane, along with a couple of personal assistants, had a meal at the Red Lion Inn. As they often did, they enjoyed a pre-dinner drink at the table that can be seen directly across from the maitre ‘d ‘s podium to the formal dining room.

On that night, we happened to be on our way downstairs at the Tavern. We saw Jack, went over to him, and gave him and Jane our best. In later years, as he slowed down, I always made sure I touched Jack with a hand on a shoulder and a squeeze. This time, I kept my hand on Jack for the ten minutes or so of our visit. The gesture meant: “I love you.” He took it as such, not that he ever said it in words. That’s not what guys do.

Jack he gave me one last, “Are you staying out of trouble”?

“No,” came the expected reply. And then he said something he had never said: “You know, you never were trouble.” I haven’t shared this until know, but at the time, I took it as Jack’s final goodbye. Jack was extending his heartfelt appreciation. My intuition proved correct.

My final words to Jack were, “Well, I bet you lead the league in stolen bases this year” I said, flicking the bill of his beloved Red Sox cap. Jack laughed.

What is life, but that it ends in death?

What is death, though?

It is the hatching process through which consciousness (as Self, as Soul) escapes the body. “Death” is birth. Therefore, it is life. Life, similarly, is All.

We neither rise nor set. For the people that understand this, people like Jack Fitzpatrick, it is evermore high noon.

RIP, beloved Jack Fitzpatrick.



  1. Jayne Church
    July 25, 2011 at 9:45 am #


  2. San Simeon
    July 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    Thank you for this touching tribute. We, too, offer our condolences to the family.

  3. Bill Sturgeon
    July 25, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    “Mr. Jack”, will be missed by so many people. He always had time for people – all people. “Mr. Jack”, thanks for the memories (Oh, so many memories) see you on the other side.

  4. edconnect
    July 25, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    I was lucky enough to meet him 2 years ago. Great man.

  5. Kevin
    July 25, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    I met him a few years back too. it was at one of the places Dan mentions in his essay, it was at the Elm Street market and he was having breakfast. He was just like anyone else. I remember thinking, Wow, and he owns the place, but he fit in like anybody else. Introduced myself and he was wonderful we talked about the Red Sox.

  6. Nancy
    July 28, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    Thanks so much, Dan for this wonderful tribute. He respected everyone who spoke their mind as he spoke his. He was a real populist. Even though he wasn’t your average guy, he knew that we’re all God’s children. It means a lot that so many people knew and appreciated him.