The Honeymoon Bay community memorialized one of their own last week.
The community’s fire hall was packed full of people, Saturday, February 5, who had nothing but good things to say about well-liked community member James Fitzmaurice.
Fitzmaurice died Friday, January 28, as a result of long-standing medical problems.
The fire hall was chosen as the event’s venue due to Fitzmaurice’s four years with the department, from 2000 to 2004.
“He was a very active part of the fire department,” Honeymoon Bay Fire Department chief John Rowley said. “He had an outstanding sense of humour during the time he was here.”
Fitzmaurice was named Firefighter of the Year in 2002.
“He was really devoted to the department,” Rowley said. “He’s a friend I’m going to miss.”
Many people in the Honeymoon Bay community didn’t know Fitzmaurice by his real name, instead lovingly nicknaming him Jimmy Two Dogs, as a result of the two dogs named Bugsy and Imp he was constantly seen with, for a time.
“They went everywhere he went,” Fitzmaurice’s landlord and friend Ian Morrison said, of the two dogs. “He was one of those guys that loves his animals, and he was a guy you could always depend on.”
Standing outside, memorializing Fitzmaurice with drinks, were his Navy friends.
Before moving to Honeymoon Bay, Fitzmaurice had been with the Canadian Navy, serving from 1982 to 1996.
By the end of his time with the Navy he had climbed the ranks to master seaman, after receiving the Canadian Forces Decoration in 1994 for loyal service.
Fitzmaurice was very dedicated to the Navy, his friends said. It’s common for ex-Canadian Military members to slow down the pace of their lives by moving to a small town after their service, they said.
“He was a loyal friend, and he loved his dogs,” master seaman Bruce Percival said. Percival travelled from Sooke to honour his long-time friend.
Near the end, Percival said that some people got the impression that Fitzmaurice was grumpy.
“The man he is, he was longing for his independence,” Percival said, adding that Fitzmaurice’s sickness robbed him of it. “He loved to be helpful.”
Percival said that Fitzmaurice was well-respected as a weapons technicial in the Canadian Navy, and that he would have liked to have stayed working with the Navy for longer.
Even though Fitzmaurice’s illness prevented him from continuing his Navy career, it didn’t stop him from contributing to his new community, by joining the Honeymoon Bay Fire Department.
“His leadership shone through,” Percival said.