Thousands attend memorial for former Gonzaga coach Dan Fitzgerald - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Thousands attend memorial for former Gonzaga coach Dan Fitzgerald

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  • Gonzaga University icon dies unexpectedly at 67

    Gonzaga University icon dies unexpectedly at 67

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Former Gonzaga coach, and the man widely considered to be responsible for Gonzaga University's rise as a college basketball power, Dan Fitzgerald died Tuesday afternoon.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Former Gonzaga coach, and the man widely considered to be responsible for Gonzaga University's rise as a college basketball power, Dan Fitzgerald died Tuesday afternoon after collapsing in an Airway Heights restaurant. Coach Fitzgerald, 67, was taken to Deaconess Medical Center but was pronounced dead about an hour after he arrived.>>

AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. - Thousands of people attended a memorial Wednesday morning in honor Dan Fitzgerald, the man credited with bringing the Gonzaga basketball program into the national spotlight.

The man known as "Fitz" by his friends passed away last week at the age of 67.  The memorial service in his honor took place at the Pend Oreille Pavilion inside Northern Quest Resort west of Spokane.  Media outlets were asked to remain at a distance, although they were provided a link to which they could direct viewers to watch the service live over the Internet.

During the service family members and former players at Gonzaga offered further insight into who Fitzgerald was as a man, coach and friend.  Speakers included former coaching assistant Dan Monson, who told of several "Fitz-isms'; Phil Haugen and Peter Riverso of Northern Quest Resort where Fitzgerald worked after coaching; and his brother, Jim Fitzgerald, who reminded everyone in the audience how lucky they were to know Fitz.

The back cover of the memorial program said it all: a picture of Fitzgerald with the trademark towel around his neck and the simple words, "Thank you".

In lieu of flowers Fitzgerald's family asked that memorial contributions be made to the Union Gospel Mission, one of his most beloved charities.

Coach Fitzgerald recruited John Stockton to Gonzaga in 1980 and coached his first college season. After that first year, Coach Fitzgerald handed the program over to Jay Hillock to concentrate on his duties as the school's athletic director and to oversee renovation of Kennedy Pavilion into the Martin Centre, what many of us now know as "The Kennel."

In 1985 Coach Fitzgerald again started up as head coach and began the most successful run of basketball wins in the school's history. Before he stepped down as head coach in 1997, with a record of 252-171, he set in motion the plan for the Bulldogs' eventual, and current, rise to national

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