Mari Ballinger FitzGerald
January 4, 1954 - October 2, 2023

Mari FitzGerald, a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, therapist and cherished member of the community, passed away peacefully on October 2, 2023, in Wilmington, NC. Born on January 4, 1954, in San Diego, California, Mari led a life dedicated to love, family, and helping others. Her legacy will forever be cherished by her devoted husband of 43 years, Patrick FitzGerald and their three sons, Ryan (spouse Warren), Michael (spouse Amanda) and Callahan.

Mari’s journey began in Northern Virginia, where her family settled in McLean. She attended Langley High School, where her passion for sport flourished. Mari excelled in field hockey during her college years and went on to coach high school soccer teams and be an active member of the Wilmington tennis league in her later years.

Throughout her life, Mari embodied qualities that set her apart. She was a loving, caring, and empathetic individual who always strived to please those around her. As one friend remarked, “she was always rushing around because she could never turn anyone down.” Known for her affection and warmth, Mari’s heart was filled with compassion for both humans and animals alike. Her love for dogs was especially notable, as she trained many of them to become service dogs, bringing joy and comfort to those in need.

Mari’s professional career was an extension of her nurturing nature. With a deep desire to help others, she dedicated herself to the field of social work. She began her career in special education, but she quickly realized her passion lay in assisting parents. Eager to make a greater impact, Mari pursued a master’s degree in social work. Her knowledge and expertise led her to Alpha Counseling Center, where she found her tribe and nurtured her commitment
to supporting families and adolescents. Through her work, she provided guidance, comfort, and hope to countless individuals and families, creating
enduring relationships that will forever carry her memory.

While Mari touched the lives of many beyond her immediate family, her dedication to her husband and sons was unwavering. In her role as a wife and mother, Mari created the loving and supportive family environment she had always envisioned. Her love for Patrick and sons shaped their lives profoundly. Together, the FitzGerald family fostered a bond built on un- conditional love, endless laughter, and fun-filled traditions that will carry on in the laughter of her grandchildren: Harrison, Arlo, Winslow, Shepherd and Helen.

As we say farewell to Mari FitzGerald, we honor and celebrate the remarkable woman she was. She leaves behind a lasting impact on the lives of thoseshe touched with her kindness, compassion, and unwavering dedication. Though she will be deeply missed, Mari’s spirit and love will forever remain in the hearts of her family, friends, clients and all who had the privilege of knowing her.

To honor Mari, a ‘Celebration of Life’ will be held on Friday, October 27th from 4-7pm at the Cameron Art Museum, 3201 South 17th Street, Wilmington, NC. In lieu of flowers, we kindly ask all donations be directed in her name to the ‘Art for All’ program at the Cameron Art Museum.

Coastal Cremations   6 Jacksonville St., Wilmington NC 28403



  • Antonio Puente Posted October 4, 2023 9:07 pm

    Linda and I cannot believe this has happened. We are in shock and grieving for this terrible and unexpected loss.

  • Martha Spinhirne Posted October 6, 2023 12:12 pm

    My heart aches. I will miss Mari so much. I cannot believe I cannot just pick up the phone and call her. I am sad for her wonderful family that was everything to Mari. I feel lucky to have had Mari as a friend.

  • Krista Thomas Amason Posted October 9, 2023 3:16 pm

    I always loved Mari in high school. She was so sweet and kind. I can see her now with the field hockey stick. She was so good and I admired her in her team sports. We reconnected about 15 years after graduation and had such a nice visit talking about our families and careers. I am so sorry for her wonderful husband and children. She will always be loved.

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