You didn’t have to be a Republican to like Mike Fitzpatrick or have him like you.
John Cordisco, an attorney and chair of the Bucks County Democratic Committee, knew that first hand. The former state lawmaker rose up the ranks with fellow Bishop Egan Catholic High School graduate Fitzpatrick, who first was a Middletown supervisor, next a Bucks County Commissioner, and then a member a congress.
“I lost a friend. He really was,” Cordisco said while choking back tears.
The county Democratic chair said Fitzpatrick, 56, of Middletown’s Levittown section, looked past politics in the community.
Numerous officials LevittownNow.com spoke with on Monday remembered Fitzpatrick as a good father and husband and a strong conservative who wasn’t afraid to work with elected officials of other parties to make progress on behalf of Bucks Countians.
“That’s just the way he was,” recalled State Rep. John Galloway, a Democrat from Falls Township.
Aaron Clark, who served as communications director for Fitzpatrick’s final years in congress, recalled his former boss as a “good guy” who was “a model public servant.”
“He loved the heck out of Bucks County,” Clark said.
Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub, a Republican who came up in politics a few years after Fitzpatrick, said the former congressman was an “example of what we aspired to be.” Weintraub, who was working as a prosecutor at the time Fitzpatrick was a commissioner, looked up to the budding elected official.
“Mike was a once-in-a-generation leader who dedicated over twenty years of his life to serving the people of Bucks County. He was a dear friend to many of us, and he will be sorely missed,” Bucks County Republican Committee Chair Pat Poprik said.
Patrick Murphy, a Democrat who beat Fitzpatrick in the 2008 race for congress, said America “lost a true patriot.”
“Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick was a champion for our beloved Bucks County. No one worked harder than Mike,” Murphy said, adding he was “a tireless and tough campaigner, passionate about the Boy Scouts.”
“As Bucks County Commissioner, and later in Congress, we could always count on Mike to fight for his fellow citizens. More than anything, I will remember him as my friend for over 40 years, and I will miss him. Kathy and I will hold his wife, Kathleen, their children and family in our prayers,” former Gov. Mark Schweiker, a friend of Fitzpatrick and fellow Bucks County GOP member, said in a statement.
State Sen. Steve Santarsiero, a Democrat from Lower Makefield, recognized Fitzpatrick for embodying the term “public servant.”
“His decades of public service as a Bucks County Commissioner and United States Congressman have left his imprint on every corner of the county. We will honor him by continuing the hard work to preserve the best of Bucks County, while also making sure we leave no residents behind as we build a better future,” he said.
State Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, who is from Bensalem, said he was proud to have known Fitzpatrick for years.
“He was just incredible to know and work with,” Tomlinson said.
“As congressman, Bucks County commissioner, township supervisor and private citizen, Mike Fitzpatrick set the standard for participation and activity in the community. He was everywhere – the face of the community he represented. My family and I are sorry for his loss and offer our condolences to his brother, Brian and his entire family,” said State Rep. Perry Warren, a Democrat from Newtown Borough.
State Rep. Tina Davis, a Democrat from Bristol Township, called mike a “great guy to work with.”
“He was a man of grace and honor,” she added.
Fitzpatrick’s current congressman brother, Brian, released the following statement:
My heart is broken. My big brother Mike was my hero and my best friend. Ever since I was little, I wanted to live up to him and be just like Mike in every way. He was the greatest brother and the greatest public servant our community has ever known. His twelve-year courageous battle with cancer has taught our entire family his values of perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds. Mike has forever touched the lives of so many in our community. Young, old, and everyone in between. Our Heavenly Father has called him home. He has gone from my hero to my guardian angel. I love you so much big brother. And I will see you soon.
“Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick served our Commonwealth with distinction, demonstrating countless times his willingness to reach across the aisle and put people before politics,” Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said.
“During his time as a Bucks County Commissioner, and then as a member of Congress, Mike proved time and again that it is possible to work across the aisle to make progress while remaining true to one’s principles. Kris and I extend our condolences to Mike’s wife Kathleen, their children, and the entire Fitzpatrick family,” said U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican.
“Mike Fitzpatrick honorably served Bucks County as a commissioner and as a congressman, fighting to make our communities stronger and find compromise in a bipartisan way,” Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said. “After receiving a cancer diagnosis in the prime of his life, he chose to not just courageously fight, but to share his story with the hope of giving strength to others. He will be greatly missed, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”
News of Fitzpatrick’s death came down as politicians of both parties were at the Bucks County Administration Building in Doylestown Borough for the county commissioner and row officer inauguration. When the news was announced, a slight gasp was heard in the room.
Wolf ordered all state and U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff on Monday and again on the day of interment, which has yet to be announced.
Outside the Bucks County Administration Building where Fitzpatrick worked from the late-1990s to mid-2000s, the flags were at half-staff shortly after the former congressman’s death was announced.