In 2012, author and photographer Piero Ribelli published a book he hoped would help reconnect Americans with one another as citizens, neighbors and friends whose similarities outnumber their differences.
When “50 Main Street” hit the shelves with its collection of photo essays about the people and circumstances Ribelli discovered at that address in one town in each of America’s states, the Utah town it featured was Moab, and the person he found at 50 Main Street here was Kevin Fitzgerald.
Serendipity has been a ubiquitous presence in Fitzgerald’s life in the 20-plus years since he and his former wife determined they would move their family from the Salt Lake Valley to Moab, he said. A run-in with gang violence in the 1990s catalyzed their search for greener pastures for the nine children in their combined household, and a friend tipped them off about Moab.
“He told me, ‘If you’re willing to work, you’ll always have a job in Moab,’” Fitzgerald said. “So I knew we’d be fine. If we had to scrub toilets, we would. We knew we would make it work.”
He did scrub toilets in the end, when help was hard to find for cleaning the condos they managed. He has also helped float grand pianos down the Colorado River, set up music venue seating, led a woman in her 80s dying of cancer to complete her goal to hike the Fiery Furnace in Arches, encouraged recycling as vice chair of the Grand County Solid Waste District Control Board, played drums for tens of thousands of runners headed to the Moab Half Marathon events’ finish lines, and played a Native American flute for the author of 50 Main St. on the red rocks above Park Avenue.
“Kevin is a super high-energy guy,” said Moab Music Festival Operations Director Dave Montgomery – a longtime friend of Fitzgerald’s. “He does everything. He’s the kind of guy you want around; he connects well with the crew and the people we work for.”
The first step was saying yes to Moab, said Fitzgerald.
“The courage comes from being able and willing to work,” he said. “Once you decide that’s what you’re going to do, it’s easy to make it happen.”
Recognized as a talented musician, Fitzgerald was invited in August to assist with a fundraiser for the Mt. Peale Animal Sanctuary and Healing Center and had the opportunity to perform with Native American flautist R. Carlos Nakai. During the performance, a strong wind gusted through the venue, lifting the canopy and sending birds sailing within arm’s reach from the musicians.
Such experience reflect the energy of his chosen home, and his own energy and effect as well, he said. Saying “yes” to a wide variety of service opportunities has greatly enriched his own life, and has opened space for others to grow and express freely, as well.
This profile was made possible by the generous support of Rocky Mountain Power.
This Week: Kevin Fitzgerald