On Tuesday, April 6, 2021, Thomas L. Fleming, loving and devoted husband and father of four children, passed away peacefully at the age of 76 with his family by his side. The eldest of three children, Tom was born on August 29, 1944, in Stockton, California, to parents Leonard and Dorothy Fleming. He graduated from Elk Grove High School in 1962 and was an accomplished and talented athlete. He had numerous friends and was extremely popular and well-liked by all. He excelled in baseball, basketball, football, and swimming, and held various leadership positions in numerous clubs and organizations, including FFA and serving as the President of Boy’s League. He served as the captain of the basketball team and lettered in nearly every varsity sport at Elk Grove High School. Although he excelled in all sports, he had a deep love for the game of baseball. After graduating from high school, he briefly attended college in Monterrey, California, before moving to Wendell, Idaho, where his parents had relocated. Soon after moving to Idaho, he met the love of his life, Gloria Bishop. They were married in 1965. He would say that when he first saw Gloria at a Hagerman dance in 1963, he knew immediately that they would marry and that he would spend the rest of his life with her. They were together for a total 58 years after that, and she was the light of his life.
His love of baseball led him to coaching young athletes at all levels of the game, from peewee and American Legion, to high school ball. He was responsible for reestablishing the Buhl High School Baseball Program in 1985, as Buhl had not had a high school sanctioned team for many years. Other coaches throughout the valley sought out his guidance about how he was able to reinstitute the program within the school. As a coach, he set the standard for baseball throughout the valley. He touched and helped shape the lives of countless players. He demanded hard work from his players, and he gained their respect and admiration by instilling in each player the love of the game, the importance of making a team effort and supporting one another, and especially fairness and sportsmanship. Tom was adamant that every player who wanted to play would have an opportunity, and he made sure that each one did. He was a man of his word. Over the years, his teams would win countless trophies and championships. He always put the players first.
Tom was dedicated to the Buhl community as well, and was a successful businessman in the area. He and Gloria built and established several businesses, including T&G’s Sport Shop, the Copper Glass Lounge, now known as Trout’s, and Tom Fleming Trucking. He was especially skilled in agriculture and farming, and through his hard work and vision, he helped build upon and grow a successful farming and ranching operation in Buhl with his father-in law, Jack. Tom’s ingenuity and inventiveness served him well, and there was never a project that he could not build nor a problem that he could not solve. He always inspired others to work harder and to be better with his “get it done and never quit” attitude.
Upon semi-retiring from farming and ranching in 2013, he and Gloria purchased some land and moved to the Big Island of Hawaii, where he was still able to manage the family businesses pool-side. He and Gloria quickly brought a sense of community to their neighborhood and fit right in. Through their love of farming and their respect for the land, Tom and Gloria transformed their home and acreage into a tropical paradise, growing bananas, oranges, grapefruits, mangos, papayas, avocados, coffee, and limes. It was a place where friends and family would often visit, and where all were always welcomed.
Tom was a member of the Idaho Army National Guard for six years, and he was awarded a lifetime membership in the American Legion. Tom was a true family man who loved and supported his family above all else. Wanting to be nearer to his children, Tom and Gloria purchased a home in Emmett and returned to Idaho full-time in 2020. As a father, he taught his children common sense, the importance of always having a backup plan, and to always think outside of the box.
Tom will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him, and he leaves behind many close friends too numerous to list, including life-long friend Jerry Case, Grant Atkinson, Jim Traxler, Shawn Gould, and Pamela Osterkamp, whom he always addressed as “Mrs. Osterkamp.” “Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I will miss you, until we meet again.” Tom is survived by his wife Gloria, sons Tom Jr. (Heather), Tim (Lori), and identical twins Ted and Todd, grandchildren Kaitlynn and Emily, two great grandchildren, and his devoted miniature schnauzer Kona 2 and cat Jet. He was preceded in death by his parents, Leonard and Dorothy Fleming, and his wife’s parents, Jack and Mabel Bishop.
Funeral preparations are being arranged under the direction of Potter Funeral Chapel in Emmett, Idaho. A viewing will be held on Saturday April 17, 2021, at Farmer’s Funeral Chapel in Buhl, Idaho, from 11:00 AM-12:30 PM, immediately followed by a graveside service at 1:00 PM at the West End Cemetery in Buhl.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, https://www.stjude.org/give/memorials-and-dedications.html or by calling (800) 805-5856; or to the Buhl American Legion Baseball c/o The American Legion Department of Idaho, 901 W Warren Street, Boise, Idaho 83706 or by calling 208-342-7061; or to the Mabel Bishop Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o Buhl Public School Foundation 920 Main Street, Buhl, Idaho 83316.
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