Blogger's Note: Upon the passing of a friend, Jerry Fleming of Plano, Texas, I sent a communication to the wife of the obituary writer seen here. She also works for the Morning News as I had established a relationship via the email. The result is here - a fitting tribute to a good man.
By JOE SIMNACHER / The Dallas Morning News
Jerry M. Fleming continued helping people long after his 1989 retirement as an Army social worker and lieutenant colonel.
He settled in Dallas, where he assisted both civilians and veterans. He was especially known for helping fellow Vietnam veterans receive benefits related to cancers linked to military exposure to Agent Orange.
Mr. Fleming, 69, died Saturday (Jan. 9, 2010) at Medical Center of Plano of complications of a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the fourth cancer he had battled.
Graveside services with military honors for Mr. Fleming will be at noon Friday at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. A celebration of life will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Community Unitarian Universalist Church, 2875 E. Parker Road in Plano.
Mr. Fleming's social work in Dallas covered everything from counseling employees after robberies and other tragedies to working with veterans, said his wife, Beverly Fleming of Plano.
"He was very caring, very much into our church; he was head of the ushers," Mrs. Fleming said. At Community Unitarian Universalist Church, Mr. Fleming and his wife worked to help AIDS patients.
For 20 years in Dallas, Mr. Fleming provided outsourced marriage and substance abuse counseling.
He was a social worker with several companies that subcontracted counseling services. He also volunteered his social-working expertise to veterans.
In 2002, doctors diagnosed Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia, a rare type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"If anybody told Jerry he had something, he started researching it," Mrs. Fleming said.
"The military acknowledged that Agent Orange had caused several things, one of them is non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which WM is one."
Mr. Fleming created a Web site and soon received calls from veterans across the nation wanting to know how to get compensation.
"If they got it – wonderful – if they didn't, he told them how to contest it," his wife said. "He helped a lot of vets get money that was due to them."
Mr. Fleming's research led him to the Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia Foundation. He attended the group's annual meeting and later agreed to start a support chapter in Dallas.
Mr. Fleming was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, where he attended the University of Dayton, before receiving his bachelor's degree from Ohio University.
"We were married a week later." Mrs. Fleming said.
A college ROTC cadet, Mr. Fleming was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army. He served in Germany and Vietnam, where he was company commander for an ambulance unit.
He later served at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he was selected to go to graduate school at Ohio State to earn a master's degree in social work. He finished his 26-year Army career as a social worker. In his career, he was stationed at Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio and Fort Sill, Okla. He was chief of social work at Fort Knox, Ky., when he retired.
"He loved the military, we both did; moving and meeting new people," Mrs. Fleming said.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Fleming is survived by a son, Steven Fleming of Gilmore, Texas; a daughter, Suzanne Fleming of McKinney; and three grandchildren.
Memorials may be made to the research fund at the International Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia Foundation, http://www.iwmf.com/.