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Monica L. Fitzgerald

May 9, 1958 ~ July 5, 2018 (age 60)

Monica Lynn (Stehling) Fitzgerald, 60, of Harlingen, Texas, passed away peacefully in the night on Thursday, July 5th 2018 with her loving husband and children by her side.

Monica was born in San Antonio, Texas on May 5th, 1958 to Daniel Edward Stehling and Marjorie Louise (Foelker) Stehling.  She grew up in Rio Hondo, Texas with her four sisters and little brother.  She attended Rio Hondo High School and at age 15 she picked her husband of 41 years from the Harlingen High Annual and they fell in love at their first kiss. 

She attended Texas A&M University where she received a BS in Ornamental Horticulture in 1980.  After college she and Jimmy moved to Dallas where she landed her dream job as a plant broker at Charlie Cook & Assoc., sourcing ornamental plants and shipping them across the country.  In 1984 they moved to Georgia where she started her own company “Contemporary Plant Locators” doing the same thing she loved from there. Both of her children – Jenna and Austin, were born in Georgia officially making them her “Georgia Peaches”. 

In 1990 they moved to Harlingen where she took on the role of small business woman and raising two children at home.  Her life has been filled with her amazing ability to create ambiance and fun wherever she went.  She was an amazing ‘travel agent’ for her family and friends, researching and planning unique adventures that created fantastic experiences for everyone as well as for herself.  She would search out and find the best things, whether it was restaurants, hotels, wineries, décor – she could find it.  She made holidays magical with her attention to detail and child-at-heart spirit. 

Her courage, strength and positivity in her battle against cancer was an inspiration to all who came across her – friend, family or stranger. She was a fiercely loyal friend and treated everyone like family.  She made life long friends everywhere she went and leaves a legacy of love, infectious laughter and an appreciation of the good life to all who knew her.  She was a beautiful person and we will miss her dearly.

Our family would like to thank everyone who supported Monica during her valiant battle with cancer.  The G.I. Oncology team at MD Anderson – Dr. Javle, Dr. Vauthey, Jackie Wheatherly, PA, Jenalette Valasco, PA, Ron Harris, RN, Dr. Starker and Dr. Snyder.  Her local attending physician Dr. Tim Bothwell, Kindred Hospice, Louise Reyes, RN; Joanne and Samantha Folsom at Companion Sitter Service and our beautiful caregivers, Mrs. Tina Puente and Beatris Jimenez, who tirelessly took care of our Monica as if she were their own and took care of us as we all cared for her in her final days.

Monica is survived by her devoted husband and companion of 45 years, James Wallace Fitzgerald of Harlingen, TX; her children Jenna Fitzgerald Higginbotham (Blake) and Austin James Fitzgerald; her parents Daniel Edward Stehling and Marjorie Louise Stehling; father-in-law Alan C. Fitzgerald; her siblings Ann Stehling Allen, Claire Bates (Roger), Sandra Cleveland (Chuck), Ben Stehling (Tamara) and Danette Atkinson (Billy); brother-in-laws David Fitzgerald (Kay), Bobby Fitzgerald (Norma) and sister-in-law Debbie Groves (Dan) as well as numerous cousins, nieces and nephews and an entire family of close friends.

She is preceded in death by her mother-in-law Mardelle Fitzgerald of Harlingen, Texas; her grandparents Benno and Lolly Stehling of Fredericksburg, Texas and Walt and Rose Foelker of Rio Hondo, Texas, as well as her sisters Judy Stehling and Stephanie Stehling.

A gathering will be held at Buck Ashcraft Funeral Home Friday, July 27th at 12pm – 9pm with family visitation from 6pm- 9pm.  A celebratory memorial service will be held July 28th at 3pm at The Chapel by the Sea, South Padre Island, Texas.  A reception will directly follow at the Chapel with her favorite desserts and coffee.

*for those wishing to attend the memorial service – please allow enough time to get across the bridge to South Padre due to summer weekend traffic. We would encourage in her honor for guests to enjoy lunch on the Island with their family and friends and then join us for a celebration at the Chapel.

Monica loved flowers and was also passionate about her battle against Cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer). Those desiring to do so can make a donation to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation in honor of Monica's valiant battle at

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