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Inquirer Mourns the Loss of Friend, Coach Joseph Fitzhugh

Inquirer Mourns the Loss of Friend, Coach Joseph Fitzhugh
October 26, 1926 – May 7, 2020

By Kandace Carty and John B. Smith, Jr.

Joseph Fitzhugh was born to Ella Mae Deans McGinty and King David Fitzhugh on October 26, 1926 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the youngest of two children. Joseph Fitzhugh graduated from Booker T. Washington High School, Atlanta, Georgia in 1947 after being drafted into the U. S. Army in 1945. In 1948, he enrolled at Fort Valley State College (now Fort Valley State University). After two weeks on campus, he met his future bride, Vivian Paschal. Fitzhugh lettered in several sports, including football, baseball and track. He graduated from Fort Valley in June, 1953; and he and Vivian were married on June 13, 1953.

After marriage, the couple moved to LaGrange, Georgia where they had two children, Kandace Fitzhugh Carty and Joseph Bernard Fitzhugh. This was also the beginning of their careers in education. In September 1953, Joseph Fitzhugh became the Physical Education instructor, coach and athletic director at East Depot High School where he remained until 1970. At East Depot, he had an unprecedented and highly successful coaching career in many sports, including football, basketball, baseball, and track. As a coach and a teacher, “Joe Cool,” as he was lovingly called, was a mentor, father-figure and friend to many students who relied on him for advice and counsel. From 1970 to 1992, he continued his commitment to athletic directorship, coaching and teaching at Charles L. Harper High, Northside High (now North Atlanta High), Fulton High (now South Atlanta High), and Brown High Schools. Throughout his career his most important mission was to not only craft male and female athletes, but to also instill values to create men and women of high ethics.

While in LaGrange, Georgia, Joseph Fitzhugh was a favorite high school teacher to many students at East Depot High School. He taught the late John B. Smith, Sr., publisher-emeritus of The Atlanta Inquirer newspaper. He was also the late publisher Smith’s high school football coach. Smith often spoke of Fitzhugh admirably. Since Fitzhugh was only nine years older than the late publisher Smith, they not only had a mentor-mentee relationship, but also a tight-knit bond of friendship. Eventually, they both were educators in the Atlanta Public School system simultaneously and were often involved in the same high schools and other business organizations.

Mrs. Frances Smith, widow of the Inquirer’s late publisher, born and raised in LaGrange, Georgia, recalls Joseph Fitzhugh as being one of her favorite teachers at East Depot High School. “I remember when Mr. Fitzhugh taught my health class in school,” she recollects.

As John B. Smith, Sr. and wife Frances grew into adulthood and eventually married and had children, they both continued a strong friendship with Mr. and Mrs. Joseph (Vivian) Fitzhugh and the Fitzhugh family. They were often seen together at either business meetings, social events or casual pastimes involving each other’s families.

Joseph was a dedicated member of Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and The Knights of Columbus where he was a strong supporter of the parish family.

Joseph Fitzhugh leaves to mourn his wife of almost 67 years, Vivian Paschal Fitzhugh; one daughter, Kandace Carty (Jeffery); one son, Joseph Fitzhugh (Heidi); four grandchildren, Stephen Boyd, Andrew Boyd, Nia Fitzhugh, Taliah Fitzhugh; and one great granddaughter, Gabriella Akosua Fitzhugh Boyd. Preceding him in death was his sister Mrs. Martha Sherman. He leaves to mourn nephews, cousins and a host of family friends.

Joseph departed this life on Thursday, May 7, 2020 to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation In Memory of Mr. Joseph Fitzhugh to The Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 2971 Butner Road SW, Atlanta, Georgia 30331-7860. Online giving is available on the church’s website at

The graveside funeral service for Joseph Fitzhugh was held on Thursday, May 14, 2020 at 11:00 am. The service was recorded and streamed live. The entire service was uploaded and may be viewed at:

The Atlanta Inquirer family mourns the loss of its long-time friend, Mr. [Coach] Joseph Fitzhugh.

Last updated on May 22, 2020

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