Everyone at Cowsmo would like to send our deepest sympathy’s to the family and friends of Bob.
Robert James Fleming, 81, of Delaware passed away peacefully early Thursday morning, June 23, 2022 at his residence surrounded by his loving family.
He was born April 9, 1941 in Delaware to the late James Nelson and Helen (Sheets) Fleming and graduated from Elm Valley High School. He furthered his education at the Ohio State University, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in AG Science.
When Bob showed his first Jersey calf at the age of nine, it was only the beginning of a lifetime of investment in the dairy industry and agriculture in general. Bob was involved in both 4-H and FFA. Both of these organizations gave opportunities to develop leadership skills that Bob would put to use the rest of his life. In 1959, he was inspired by Max Mitchell to accept the nomination for the State of Ohio FFA Reporter, a position to which he was elected. During a 4-H Citizenship Trip to Washington, D. C., Bob presented a speech to President John F. Kennedy.
Others recognized Bob’s leadership ability when he was elected president of his fraternity, Alpha Zeta, for the 1961-1962 school year. As a student at OSU, Bob joined ROTC. He entered the US Army as an officer, later earning the rank of Captain and then served in the U.S. Army Reserves. He was honored with the trophy for the best recruit out of 6,000 recruits and would go on to serve as an arms instructor at Fort Knox.
After college, Bob became the County 4-H agent of Madison County. He initiated the Counselor-In-Training (CIT) Program which is still widely used today.
Eventually, Bob took over the family farm, Ideal Jersey Farm. It was after an Ohio Jersey picnic at the farm that Bob first asked Mary Thurston to go out on the first date. A month later, Bob asked Mary to marry him. As the story goes, they were standing next to the pasture fence beside a manure spreader. It’s a good thing Mary also grew up on a dairy farm and was not dissuaded by the location of the proposal!
Bob became involved in the Delaware County Farm Bureau and volunteered for many of the Farm Bureau events. He first proposed that the county Farm Bureau should develop and run an AG Education program for fair-goers at the Delaware County Fair. The program became a popular attraction at the fair and fair-goers gained a better appreciation of agriculture.
Ideal Jerseys were well-known as a top Jersey herd as Bob worked with the American Jersey Cattle Club to export Jerseys around the world. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Bob exported bred heifers to Japan, Brazil and 6 other countries. His herd even received a 50-year recognition for participation in the REAP program of the American Jersey Cattle Club. He served as a District 10 Senior Director for the Ohio Jersey Breeder’s Association and judged multiple County Fairs due to his expertise on evaluating cattle.
When Bob retired from active dairying, he began delivering the Columbus Dispatch in Delaware County. In 2008, he received the Dispatch Carrier of the Year award. Bob was also a 2010 census enumerator for the US Census Bureau serving in Ohio and Michigan. He was a longtime faithful member and supporter of the Kilbourne United Methodist Church, serving in leadership roles on multiple committees.
Bob’s life and influence extended far beyond his various jobs and opportunities. In later years, Bob joined a model railroad club at the old Sunbury Depot under the Preservation Park, where he enjoyed chatting with others and catching up on the latest news.
Most recently, Bob enjoyed watching his grandsons showing at the Delaware and Ashtabula County Fairs and playing baseball. When asked who his favorite child or grandchild was, he would always answer “the one that was physically closest to him at the time.” His favorite gathering place was his front porch where he could talk with family and friends and watch the corn grow.
Left to cherish his memory are his loving wife of 44 years, Mary (Thurston); children, Marie (Chris) Bradek of Jefferson, OH, Melissa Fleming of New York City, NY, Michael Fleming of Columbus, and Mark (Samantha) Fleming of Delaware; grandsons, Felipe (Morghan) Pacheco-Santos, Henry Bradek, Maxwell Bradek, and Grant, Jake and Nolan Fleming; great grandsons, Easton and Rebel Pacheco-Santos; brother, William (Frank Kuesel) Fleming of Galena; sisters-in-law, Nancy Fleming of Delaware, Linda (Keith) Wolstenholme of Collegeville, PA, Ann (Bill) Rammelsberg of Delaware, Karen Wooster of Taylors, SC, and Kathy (Scott) Bauder; brother-in-law, John Thurston III of Delaware; numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
In addition to his parents, Bob was preceded in death by his brother Richard.
The family will receive friends on Monday, June 27, 2022 from 10 a.m.–noon at the Kilbourne United Methodist Church, 5591 State Route 521, Kilbourne, OH, where funeral services will follow at noon with Pastor Ryan Skelton and Chaplain Jeff Slider officiating. Burial will be in Greenmound Cemetery with military honors provided by the Delaware County Veterans Association. A reception and time of fellowship will then follow at the Kilbourne United Methodist Church.
Contributions in Bob’s memory may be made to the Ohio 4H Camp, Ohio FFA Foundation or the Kilbourne United Methodist Church.
The Snyder-Rodman Funeral Center of Delaware is honored to serve this veteran and his family.
To share a fond memory of Bob or to offer a condolence to his family, please visit here.