The Old Oak Cliff Conservation League Fall Home Tour is this weekend. This one is the the first in years that didn’t have Winnetka Heights resident Vicki Fitzgerald behind it as the driving force. This tour will also be the first one in years that she won’t attend.

Fitzgerald lost her battle to oral cancer on Monday, as the league shared today in this memorial of her life. The sad news also gives details of the services this Saturday in Atoka, Okla, and notes that an additional memorial service will be held at Tyler Street United Methodist Church, details pending.

Fitzgerald’s love ran deep — for her family, for the countless animals she rescued, for the many friends whom she watched over, and for our neighborhood. She was a tireless advocate for Oak Cliff. I met Fitzgerald because of the home tour, and she quickly made it clear that it was so much more than gorgeous homes opening up so that people could ogle. Her words, and the passion with which she spoke them, stood out to me, and were quoted in our 2008 home tour story:

“We are the ambassador to Oak Cliff,” she said of the tour. “People see Oak Cliff in a way that many of them don’t realize they’re going to see when they come over here.”

The role of ambassador was an important one to Fitzgerald, who herself had fallen in love with and moved to Oak Cliff in 1997 after living in the suburbs most of her life. She was always humble about the countless hours she spent organizing the home tour, digging up neighborhood history, trying to improve Turner House, and educating herself and others about issues facing Oak Cliff.

But everyone knew the truth: In a neighborhood full of passionate, caring people who constantly give of themselves to make life better for those around them, Fitzgerald was the cream of the crop. Not only did she pour out her life to make Oak Cliff a better place, she opened her life to each person (and animal) who crossed her path, and took time to make them feel special and loved.

So many people, including me, counted themselves lucky to be called her friend. The loss of Vicki Fitzgerald will be felt for months and years to come.