disAbility Connections ‘dC’ would like to express our deep gratitude and appreciation of Dave Fleming, following his passing away on June 21st, 2020. Dave was an integral part of the Jackson community and longtime advocate for people with disabilities. His dedicated support to the local community was evident in his willingness to volunteer, join, and participate with numerous organizations as a way to give back and ingrain himself with his fellow residents. (Figure 1: Dave Fleming stands at the far-right end in a black leather jacket, holding a shovel during the Community Bandshell ground breaking at The Cascades.) To some people Dave was fellow Rotarian, a dC Board Member, an architect, a colleague, and as dC employee Carmon Yeloushan said “He was giving, caring, a supporter, fun, gentle, and a person that lit up the room with his mere presence and smile.”
Dave continually provided disAbility Connections with assistance as a member of the disAbility Connections Board and Facilities Committee. Dave’s background as an architect helped in designing the initial renovations and additions to the buildings we use as our office in Jackson along with Fix-dis across the street, and was always one to provide support to make environments as inclusive as possible.
Kindness and helping were in his nature, going the extra distance by helping plan and setup the annual Disability Awareness Dinner to ensure even the stage was accessible, despite the fact he was a guest and had already done more than enough as he often already donated items to be bid upon during the dinner.
Commitment to the community and dC carried over into his time as a Rotarian and their Rotary Ruler Days fundraiser. He would not only take the time to assist in collecting donations standing in storefronts around Jackson, afterwards he spent additional time to tally the totals gained over the days fundraising for disAbility Connections. Additionally, Dave assisted in other fundraising ventures. He was involved with setting dC up as a host for blood drives in our parking lot and also driving golf carts during race weekends at MIS, providing rides to people with disabilities throughout the weekends.
Dave had an uncanny ability to put those around him at ease and also feel special. An important aspect he also helped ensure was having pictures taken during events. Not only to document events as they happened, but also to share with people so they can share in the memories too. He thought it was so important that he even provided dC with a camera so we could continue the tradition. During Rotary Children’s Christmas Parties he would make it a point that each child had their own picture taken with Santa to be able to take home after the party.
Longtime dC staff member Holly Peterson said it best when thinking about Dave and his time with dC, “Dave was a fun guy with a ton of patience and reason. We were blessed by his presence in being a big part of taking dC to where it is today.” She also reflected on his genuine care for dC and the employees as it was not uncommon to see him at staff lunches, meetings, or stopping door to door in the offices as he asked how staff were doing and if anything new was going on in the various programs. (Figure 2: L-R Jim Grose and Dave Fleming)
As we reflect back on Dave Fleming, there is sadness for his loved ones and those around him during the difficult days, but also comfort in knowing that people are better off now and for years to come because of him. Dave may no longer physically be with us, but through our memories and lessons learned he has left us knowing how to live a life caring for others, advocating for people with disabilities, and developing long lasting friendships with memories that can never be taken away.