loved friend and colleague
It was with sadness and an enormous sense of loss that the members of the Auckland Women’s Health Council learnt of the death of our friend and colleague, Jo Fitzpatrick, on the 15th of March, 2018. Although we knew she had experienced recent poor health, we were unaware of how serious this was, and her death has been a shock. It was not Jo’s intention to not communicate the seriousness of her illness to her friends and colleagues; she wanted to tell people personally, but she became too sick, too quickly, and the shock that is felt by many members of the wider women’s health community is felt by us all.
Jo’s association with the Auckland Women’s Health Council goes back to the days, when as Director of Women’s Health Action, she provided a place for AWHC to hold its meetings. Jo joined the AWHC committee in 2004, and she and her partner Alan also provided a meeting place in their home in Mangere for several years. Their hospitality was always warm and welcoming; we left nourished from Alan’s soups.
In talking among ourselves and with others close to Jo, as both friends and colleagues, what shines through was Jo’s sense of humour, her cheerfulness and vibrant dress sense, her loyalty as a friend and her warmth. Even those of us who had known her for shorter periods and had spent less time working with her, felt supported and welcomed into the women’s health community.
Jo was an astute judge of the political processes/dynamics that occurred at the various meetings or within the health system. She had integrity and stood firm on issues and in her values. She brought humour and scholarship to the table. Her ability to interpret information quickly and provide direction to us was invaluable to the AWHC.
Jo was a very loyal friend and was especially close to Lynda Williams, through good times (Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan concerts) and bad (supporting Lynda throughout her illness), and Jo’s sudden death has heightened our sense of loss in the last year. Jo helped care for Lynda at the end of her life and was so gentle and loving. Jo knitted a number of things for Lynda, including a beautiful pair of soft slippers for her, which she put on her and gently massaged her tiny sore body. We were so grateful for the care and love our dear friend Jo showed our dear friend Lynda and wish we could have returned to her a little of what she gave to Lynda.
Jo was a woman who lit up the room with personality, intelligence and humour. She will be deeply missed by us all, not only for her in-depth contribution and insight into issues but, also for her warm friendship.
Our thoughts are with Jo’s sister, Jill, partner Alan, and their families.