October 15, 1935 - March 14, 2019
“Let me live in a house by the side of the road and be a friend to man.” (Sam Walter Foss)
Ellis Gray Fleming of Pensacola, Florida, died March 14, 2019, at 12: 19 p.m. in Fort Worth, Texas. He was 83.
Mr. Fleming loved politics, old westerns, babies, witty remarks, Scotch whisky, singing little nothing songs and his family.
He was born Oct. 15, 1935, in rural Clark County, Alabama, to C.J. and Mary Lou Fleming. He grew up in the tiny community of Salitpa and loved telling people he was from LA (Lower Alabama).
“I’d rather have somebody tell a lie about me than the truth. You can defend a lie. You can’t defend the truth.”
He attended Jackson High School and was working as a DJ at a radio station in Coffeeville when he was offered a better paying job in the lab at Geigy Chemical Corporation in McIntosh. It was a move that would change his life forever.
As part of that job, he was asked to enroll at Auburn University, then Alabama Polytechnic Institute, and study chemical engineering while continuing to work at Geigy as a co-op student.
“I’m trying to swim through the waters of life without making a ripple while everybody else is doing cannon balls.”
The lab at Geigy is where he met Mary Frances Palmer, a young chemist who recently had graduated from Alabama State College for Women in Montevallo. They married on Dec. 20, 1958.
After graduating from Auburn, Mr. Fleming went on to spend 35 years as a manager in the chemical industry in Pensacola and Telogia, Florida; Bay Minette, Alabama; and Oakdale, Louisiana. In 1983, he was transferred by Reichhold Chemicals back to Pensacola, where he stayed until retirement in 1995.
“I spent my life climbing the ladder of success and got within two or three rungs from the top only to realize it was propped against the wrong wall.”
Retirement gave him time to devote to another of his passions: tinkering. He opened Fleming’s Gun Repair on Pine Forest Road. He had the shop for 19 years and turned it into a gathering place for people who loved hunting, arguing and shooting the bull.
His wife died in 2013, just weeks before their 55th anniversary, and Mr. Fleming never fully recovered from his grief.
“You’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt. And be thankful you’ve got a seat at the table to draw some cards.”
For the past two years, he spent most of his time with his daughters in Fort Worth and Rockledge, Florida.
Mr. Fleming was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Palmer Fleming; his parents, Caleb J. and Mary Lou Fleming; and brothers Cleve, Jack and Bobbie Joe Fleming.
He is survived by daughters Mary “Sam” Fleming of Fort Worth, Suzy Fleming Leonard of Rockledge and Pat Fleming Anderson of Fort Worth; grandchildren Tyler Anderson and Miranda Reese of Fort Worth and Trent Anderson of Auburn, Alabama; sons-in-law Gary Anderson and Steve Leonard; and many brothers- and sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews and cousins.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Habitat for Humanity of Pensacola.
A memorial service is being planned for this summer.
Please leave the family condolences and share memories on this website.
Arrangements are under the direction of:
Aria Cremation Service & Funeral Home
1820 N. Belt Line Road
Irving, Texas 75061
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