After a long illness, James Paul Fittin III, of Vero Beach, FL and formerly of Short Hills, NJ, died at the VNA Hospice House, Vero Beach, on June 19, 2021. He was born to James P. Jr. and Carolyn (nee O’Connor) Fittin, November 22, 1939, in Orange NJ, and the oldest of five siblings. As a child, his parents moved to the newly developed Fairfield section of Short Hills. Jim graduated from St. Rose of Lima School in 1954, and matriculated to Delbarton School, Morristown, NJ. He graduated in 1958, and matriculated to Villanova University, Villanova, PA. At Delbarton he played football (as nearly everyone did in those days) and swam. In the latter he especially excelled, and was an Olympic hopeful.
After attending Villanova, Jim went to work with his father, and soon became a purveyor of brick and building materials. Construction would become Jim’s life-long profession. In fact, he was involved in acquiring the bricks for St. Mary’s Abbey Church!
September 23, 1961, at Our Lady of the Valley Church, Orange, he married Sandra Klein, daughter of the late Dr. Edward C. Klein, Jr. and Regina (nee Shanley) Klein, of Orange.
Sandy and Jim met many years earlier, as toddlers, attending Sandy’s first cousin’s birthday party in Orange. Sandy and Jim kept in touch, as Sandy attended the Oak Knoll School, Summit, one of Delbarton’s sister schools.
After settling into their first tiny apartment in East Orange, they dined on White Castle burgers. Soon thereafter, when their first child was coming, they realized they had no room for a crib! They moved to Sandy’s large childhood home in Orange, where her parents fixed up the third floor. After the third child arrived, they bought their first home in Short Hills in 1967, where they raised their three children. Jim insisted on a meticulously manicured lawn and clean cars. Sunday mornings, one could hear classical and Broadway music playing, often from Jim’s extensive LP collection. In 2012, long after his three children moved out, he and Sandy moved fulltime to their vacation home at Sea Oaks Beach and Tennis Club, in Vero Beach.
For many years Jim pursued his love of tennis and paddle at the Essex County Country Club, West Orange, NJ. Jim and Sandy enjoyed an annual vacation at the Coral Beach Club, Bermuda, where Jim would submit his name to be inserted into the daily rounds of tennis, while Sandy enjoyed the beach on the south shore (where she once met the Duchess of Kent!). Dining was elegant and al fresco on the terrace above the beach. He was competitive and a worthy opponent. His love of tennis continued in Florida where, until a few years ago, played multiple times a week at Sea Oaks.
Jim also developed a love of marksmanship in skeet and trap, at the Fin, Fur and Feather Club, New Jersey’s oldest gun club. He served as president during his many years of association. In this port, too, he was a worthy opponent.
A life-long animal lover, Jim for decades was a familiar face in the South Mountain Reservation with his beloved labs. He had many fellow dog-lovers he and his dogs looked forward to meeting. He walked many miles each day on the trails, keeping him and his dogs physically fit. His home was never without cats, too, who got along famously with the dogs! For years, when Jim was walking one of his dogs in the neighborhood, for “a spin” as he called it, it was typical to see one of the cats following! Dogs and cats were integral parts of Jim’s family and life.
The Jungle Trail in Vero Beach, along the Indian River, would replace the reservation. After his beloved yellow lab, Dugan, had to be put down due to old age, it became clear Jim was no longer up to the daily demands of being a dog owner, due to his declining health. A set of tennis, too, was becoming difficult, and house confinement was hardly how he planned to spend his retirement in Florida.
Jim is predeceased by his parents Jim and Carolyn, and his brother Rick. He is survived by his wife Sandra of 59 years, his daughter, Christine of Bernardsville, his son, the Very Rev. Edward Seton Fittin, O.S.B., prior of St. Mary’s Abbey, Morristown, and daughter Alexandra of Basking Ridge, and his siblings, Kit Godby Felber, Morristown, Christopher, Brielle, and Peter, Sea Girt.
A Funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Mary’s Abbey Church, Morristown. The Mass will be livestreamed on the abbey’s YouTube channel. Inurnment will be private at St. Catharine Cemetery, Sea Girt. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Jim’s memory to St. Mary’s Abbey Endowment or Capital Campaign, or St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, Madison.
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