Jack Fitzpatrick was known in many ways by many people: as a father, husband, businessman, patron, philanthropist, advocate, Senator, and friend, especially to his beloved wife Jane. Jack’s role in Norman Rockwell Museum’s history began with his long-time friendship with Norman Rockwell. A close personal friend to the Fitzpatricks, Rockwell frequented The Red Lion Inn, which was located across the street from his home on South Street in Stockbridge. The artist enjoyed visiting with Jack and Jane, and regularly entertained guests at the Inn, which the Fitzpatricks lovingly restored and used to house their flagship Country Curtains store.
The Fitzpatricks also served as models for Rockwell. Pert and pretty, Jane posed as Becky Sharp, the anti-heroine from William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel Vanity Fair; and Jack played the part of her handsome suitor. Photographs of the couple’s posing (found in the Norman Rockwell Museum Archives) record a young and attractive couple, who had recently relocated to Stockbridge to make their home, and breathe new life into the Inn, a historic town centerpiece.
In 1969 The Red Lion Inn reopened under the Fitzpatrick ownership, and the Old Corner House opened its doors. Jane and Jack were among the founding friends and patrons who saved this historic home which later became the Norman Rockwell Museum. Jane served on the Board of Trustees, but it was Jack who was the ardent art fan—he even commissioned Norman Rockwell to do an elegant portrait of Jane. During this period in Rockwell’s life, he began issuing limited edition signed prints of his iconic paintings, and Jack was avidly acquiring a collection of every title. Many of these prints would eventually grace the walls of the Inn, residing in guest rooms, hallways and decorating his office. In time, he began to collect original paintings—he was a true connoisseur of Rockwell’s work.
Without the Fitzpatricks, Norman Rockwell Museum would not be the museum it is today. They have, in fact, been generous patrons of the Museum for over forty years. The new museum building’s main barrel vaulted gallery is named for the Fitzpatrick Family, and Jack even hosted the Annual Red Lion Invitational Golf Tournament each year, which was a wonderful fundraiser for the Museum and brought many new members and visitors. When the Museum was nearly ready to open and we had no money to buy basic furnishings, Jane quietly took me aside after a board meeting and said, “How much do you need?” The Museum opened with furnishings. That’s the nature of this couple—quietly dedicating their work and philanthropy, their company executives, and personal resources to make the community a better place.
From education to theatre, music and art, Jack and Jane were there—setting the example, the leadership pace, investing in Stockbridge and the Berkshire community to preserve the region’s grace and history. In time, numerous additional buildings in the center of town joined the Inn as gracious accommodations, and Blantyre was reborn under the loving attention to detail of Jane and her daughter Ann Fitzpatrick Brown. Jack often stayed in the background. It was Jane who served on the Museum board, theatre board, Boston Symphony Orchestra board; and later her daughters Ann and now Nancy, current owner of the Red Lion Inn, who has put her own creative flair to work for the Inn and many Berkshire artistic businesses and artists. Nancy also serves on the Museum’s National Council.
It is difficult to imagine Norman Rockwell Museum without Jack Fitzpatrick and his family. We are a community museum, built by the citizens of Stockbridge in response to the public demand to see Rockwell’s artwork. Jack and Jane believed in the Museum, as friends of Norman Rockwell and Henry H. Williams, Jr., another early leader, who served as treasurer of the Museum for many years. During my 25 year tenure as Director of the Museum, I have been mentored, educated and supported by Jack and Jane at every turn. Somehow we all thought this day would never come—that Jack was immortal and a giant, in heart and mind. The passing of the Senator marks the end of an era, and leaves a legacy that will inspire the same kind of civic-minded leadership and philanthropy that is the hallmark of the entire Fitzpatrick family.
Our hearts go out to Jane, his beloved wife, friend and partner of 67 years; and his daughters, Nancy and Ann. Norman Rockwell Museum cherishes your friendship.
—Laurie Norton Moffatt,
Director/CEO Norman Rockwell Museum
Director/CEO Norman Rockwell Museum
The Fitzpatrick Family has suggested donations in Jack’s memory be made to Norman Rockwell Museum, Tanglewood, Berkshire Theatre Festival, or Trustees of Reservations. To learn more about making a memorial contribution to the Museum in Jack’s honor, click here.