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Douglas K. Fleming

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Douglas K. FLEMING April 12, 1923 ~ February 25, 2010 We will remember Douglas Fleming, who gave his time, his wonderful stories, his teaching, his support and his love to so many of us. Doug was born at the home of his mother's family, across a dirt road from the 2nd hole of the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, Cheshire, England. His father, who worked in the cotton business, settled the family in Houston, Texas, where Doug grew up with his brother and two sisters. He treasured memories of his time spent with his siblings at his parents' farm in the Hill Country 70 miles northwest of San Antonio, drifting in the Guadalupe River, exploring the hills, covered in oak and scrub cedar, and finding fossils embedded in the limestone cliffs. Doug attended primary school in Houston, secondary school in Concord, Massachusetts, and college in Princeton, New Jersey. He enlisted in the navy in1943. For 16 months he was an officer on the USS Henry A. Wiley, a destroyer minelayer that received a Presidential Unit Citation for action in the Pacific. He formed lifelong friendships with his shipmates, consolidated by 14 postwar reunions. Upon release from active duty in 1946, Doug worked 15 years for a steamship line in New York, Houston, and Seattle, progressing from a documentation clerk to boarding agent, chartering broker, fleet allocator and eventually Vice President of States Marine Isthmian Agency. His time in the navy and working in the shipping business became the background for many "sea stories" which, along with so many other stories from his life, were shared with his family, students and friends. Many stories were set against dramatic events in history, in romantic times and places, and included encounters with famous and powerful people. The stories were also told generously, with humility and humor, letting us into his thoughts on his own accomplishments, his limitations, his life. In the early 1950s, Doug worked for a short time in Memphis, where he met Mary Vinton. They were married in 1954. Their remarkable marriage was a thing of wonder to their family and friends. They gave each other respect, support, independence and love. They celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary with their children and grandchildren in January, Mary in a dress of the same emerald green she wore the evening Doug proposed. Mary passed away just nine days before Doug, who somehow wrote a beautiful, perfect obituary for her the afternoon of the very day she died. A few days before he himself left us, Doug was asked to comfort himself with the memory of a moment of pure happiness in his life. He paused only briefly, then offered, "When Mary said yes." In 1961, Doug gave up the steamship business to pursue an academic career, which he sensed was the true calling of his professional life. He received his doctorate degree in 1965 and subsequently taught classes in transportation geography at the University of Washington for 27 years. He served a term as president of the Association of Washington Geographers. He belonged to the American Geographical Society, the Association of American Geographers, and the International Association of Maritime Economics. He wrote many articles for professional journals and served on the editorial boards of Maritime Policy and Management, International Journal of Maritime Economics and Maritime Economics and Logistics. Doug found it difficult to retire, and returned many times to teach and lecture at the University, work with and counsel graduate students, and continue research in trade and transportation fields. He maintained close contact with many former students and was proud of their achievements. He served on the board of directors of Seattle Trust and Savings Bank for 17 years. He was a former board member of Epiphany School, Bush School, Middlesex School, Children's Home Society of Washington, International Snow Leopard Trust and Odyssey (Maritime Discovery Center). Doug is survived by his daughter Florence, sons Bill, Doug Jr., and Charlie, daughters-in-law Deb and Tessa, son-in-law Steve, grandsons Saul and Ira, granddaughters Frannie and Natalie, all of whom were dearly loved. A service for both Doug and Mary will be held at Epiphany Parish of Seattle on Friday, March 5 at 1:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts for Doug may be made to the organization of your choice.
Published in The Seattle Times from Feb. 28 to Mar. 1, 2010
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