Surrounded by his loving family, James “Jim” Aubrie Fleming died on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, at his home in Willows. The eldest of four children, he was born to Aubrie and Grace (Moffat) Fleming on Sept. 26, 1927.
He became a lifelong friend and role model to his three younger sisters, Prudence, Mary Ann, and Priscilla. He spoke very fondly of childhood and often told stories about his abundant network of close relatives and neighborhood friends.
He spent his early life in Gary, Ind. He excelled in school and graduated from Horace Mann High School in 1943 at the age of just 16.
From there, he attended Wheaton College, located outside Chicago, Ill., where he began his study of chemistry and pre-med.
It was there he met his future wife, Barbara Danenhour. From the start, he knew he wanted to marry her, and his conviction never wavered.
In 1945, he put his education on hold to serve in the Army in World War II. He was stationed in Japan for two years as a soldier in a paratrooper unit.
His family knows from his stories that he passed his off-duty time trading his ration of cigarettes for chocolate bars and drawing comic strips to send home to Barb.
While Jim was in Japan, Barb stayed at Wheaton. During her senior year, she contracted polio, an illness that would leave her wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life.
Some speculated that this would end their relationship but the two took it in stride. When he returned from Japan, he completed his study at Wheaton and soon after, in 1949, they were married in Mountainside, N.J.
The next step for Jim was medical school at Indiana University in Indianapolis. While living in a tiny quonset hut village adjacent to the university, Jim and Barb welcomed their first two children, Mike and Margaret.
At the conclusion of his medical school training, the family relocated to Riverside, Calif., where Jim began his residency and the family welcomed another member, daughter Nancy.
In 1956, the family made their final move to Willows, where he officially became “Dr. Fleming”. It was here that he established his private practice while also working in various capacities as a physician at Glenn General Hospital.
Within the next few years, the family also added its final two members, sons Dan and Jeff.
Dr. Fleming spent his nearly 40-year career as a physician serving the community of Willows. He was devoted to providing his patients with the best care possible.
He did everything from making house calls to tonsillectomies to delivering babies (a lot of babies!) and was loved by patients and staff alike. Within his field, he was respected as a gifted diagnostician.
He retired in his late 60s from formal practice but continued to take a vested interest in the health and well- being of those closest to him.
When he wasn’t doctoring, he had many hobbies. He especially enjoyed scuba diving, often taking trips to Fort Bragg with his family to dive for abalone. He even made a special trip to Cozumel, Mexico, to search for coral and see the abundant tropical fish.
Day to day, he enjoyed gardening (always seeking a better crop of tomatoes!), playing guitar and piano, and working in his shop on carpentry or stained-glass projects. One of his favorite summer pastimes was spending time in the backyard pool, swimming with his kids and grandkids.
Family was incredibly important to him. Although much of his time was spent at the hospital during his working years, he always made time for family activities and vacations.
After he retired, he maintained close relationships with all his children, and became a loving and devoted grandpa.
In 2012, his wife Barbara died after almost 63 years of marriage. This was a time of profound grief for Jim, but in 2013, he was blessed to marry his longtime friend and neighbor, Patricia (Mayberry) Fleming.
She became a beloved member of the family. They enjoyed nine wonderful years of marriage together and provided each other with much love and companionship.
Pat’s sons, Steve (Darla) Mayberry, Danny (Sheila) Mayberry, and Scott (Brenda) Mayberry and their families, also adopted Jim as a second dad and grandpa. They supported and cared for him tirelessly towards the end of his life and he felt blessed by them.
Jim’s faith shaped every facet of his life. He was a member of the First Baptist Church for his entire 67-year tenure in Willows.
Reading from the Bible and singing hymns were two of his most abiding joys and these practices sustained him through many challenging times. His love for Christ was evident, as was his commitment to live a life with his eyes upon Jesus.
In his last days, he continued to show the grit, humility, kindness, and good humor that were characteristic of him throughout his life. He showed no fear in the face of death, only concern for others as he knew how deeply he would be missed.
His faith in Jesus gave him joy and hope that he would soon be reunited with his many loved ones who had gone before him.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Barbara (Danenhour) Fleming; sisters Mary Ann Berry and Prudence Bedell; and sons Mike Fleming and Jeff Fleming.
He is survived by his second wife, Patricia (Mayberry) Fleming; sister Priscilla Joiner; children Margaret (Sam) Baker, Nancy (Dan) Farrer, and Dan (Barb) Fleming; daughters-in-law Deana (Mike) Fleming and Susie (Jeff) Fleming; grandchildren Leah Dahl, Brian Fleming, Nathan Fleming, Caleb Fleming, and Olivia Prinz; five great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild.
A Celebration of Life service was to be held on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the First Baptist Church in Willows. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be given to Feeding Nations through Education and The First Baptist Church.