Former Monument resident Skye Fitzgerald was nominated for an Academy Award for his short film documentary “Lifeboat.”
Although it didn’t win the Oscar, the 34 1/2 minute movie, filmed in 2016 as part of a trilogy, provides a glimpse into rescue missions on the Mediterranean Sea as volunteers with the nonprofit Sea-Watch group seek out migrants fleeing areas such as Libya and Tunisia via wooden and inflatable boats.
Monument residents Mitch and Jenny Mund know Fitzgerald and remember when he was a young man.
Fitzgerald’s parents, Fred and Fanny Fitzgerald, still live in Monument, and Jenny said they traveled to be with their son at the award ceremony in Los Angeles.
When Mitch and Jenny moved to Monument from John Day in 1986, the Fitzgeralds were living in Monument.
Jenny said she remembers Skye, 48, as a hard-working young man.
She said the family lived in a truck trailer in the early days that she knew them and later built a beautiful home.
She added that Fred, now retired, was an air-traffic controller in Tri-Cities, Washington, and Fanny played string instruments with the Inland Northwest Orchestra.
Mitch worked in fire control for the Oregon Department of Forestry back then, and Skye worked for him during the summer months as a seasonal firefighter.
“He was always willing to learn and was always interested in finding out things that he didn’t know,” Mitch said.
Skye interviewed Mitch for a part of his 2018 documentary film “101 Seconds,” which was about the Clackamas Towne Center shooting in December 2012.
“I gave my views on the Second Amendment and gun control,” Mitch said. “That’s what I admire in his documentaries. He tried to give both sides of the issue, and then let the person who views it decide — not try to push any of his thoughts or beliefs on people, but let people make that choice.”
“I’m proud of him,” Mitch said, adding he’s worthy of the recognition and honor. “He’s very appreciative of everything he’s received throughout his life, and what he’s earned. He’s a hardworking person.”
“I’m glad to say he’s from Grant County,” Mitch said.
Rod Thompson, who lives on the Umatilla Indian Reservation just outside of Pendleton, said when he heard the Academy Awards nominees, the name Skye Fitzgerald “rang a bell.”
Thompson worked for a foreign exchange program in the 1980s and '90s and received Fitzgerald’s application for studying abroad in Sweden.
He recalled interviewing Skye and his parents at their home, which is on a Forest Road past Top Road, as part of the process.
“They were in a remote part of Grant County, which is by itself remote,” he said.
Thompson said Skye’s grades were excellent, and his parents were incredibly supportive.
Students applying for studying abroad are interviewed, Thompson said, to make sure they’re suitable for it as great students who are open to learning new things and living in a new culture — a unique culture, as well as a sub-culture.
He said Skye also took in a trip to Leningrad during his time in Sweden.
“It’s a broadening experience for them,” he said.
Thompson said he remembers all the students he worked with through American Scandinavian Student Exchange, which is now called ASSE.
“Most exchange students I’ve been able to keep track of have all achieved,” he said, adding Skye is “achieving things — it’s a big deal.”