Photographer, leader dies at 71

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &045; Photography was a hobby for James Fleming since his youth. While at Clemson University, he put his talents to use with the school’s yearbook. After college, it became something of a casual enjoyment.

Fleming’s life would take him into the armed services, through marriage, into freelancing &045; both photography and writing &045;and into automotive sales before that hobby would become the trademark of the man being mourned by family friends after his death on Saturday.

James Donald Fleming was laid to rest yesterday afternoon in the Demopolis Memorial Gardens. His legacy, however, will be found in the thousands of portraits he shot since opening Fleming Photography in 1981.

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While the Fleming home is filled with photographs of all subjects, Rob said one style was his father’s passion.

Upon news of Fleming’s death, the local message board DemopolisLive lit up with mourners expressing their condolences, many who knew Fleming from his photographing them and, later, their children.

But Fleming will be remembered for more than just the memories he captured through the lenses of his camera. Rob Fleming says his father’s greatest contribution as a civil servant can be found at the airport, a favorite spot of James Fleming that came from a passion for avionics.

James Fleming entered the Air Force upon graduation from college. He was a ground flight instructor, and during his time became keenly interested in &8220;flight, airports and airplanes,&8221; Rob Fleming said.

Decades later, as a city councilman, James Fleming was a leading advocate for improvement and expansion at the municipal airport.

James Fleming’s affinity for the heavens also led him to an interest in meteorology. Fleming helped bring about the Noah Weather Tower, located just south of the city. He was also a weather watcher for regional news stations and for DemopolisLive.

James Fleming’s varied interests also extended to his becoming a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, for whom he taught classes.

A native of Pacolet, S.C., James Fleming married the former Anne Jones in 1963. Two years later, the Flemings moved to Demopolis, at which time he went to work selling cars for his father-in-law at Lloyd Jones Chevrolet.

For 18 years he put area people in new and new-to-them vehicles. For 43 years, he developed friendships and made a lasting impact on this area.

Arthur Hitt counts himself as one of James Fleming’s closest friends. The Flemings and the Hitts were regular traveling companions, whether the destination was Mobile for dinner or South Carolina for a vacation.

One of Hitt’s most memorable trips with the Flemings was to south Texas.

Hitt remembers his old friend as a decisive man.

Hitt said Ann Fleming once told him that her husband would never travel with anybody else.

James Fleming was also a member of the Demopolis Chamber of Commerce, the Demopolis Airport Committee, First United Methodist Church of Demopolis, the Professional Photographer’s Association of Alabama and of America and an honorary member of the staff of the Attorney General.

Survivors include his wife, Anne Jones Fleming of Demopolis; one daughter, Rebecca Blanchard and her husband, Keith, of Lake Mary, Fla.; one son, Rob Fleming and his wife, Beth, of Demopolis; four grandchildren, Alex Fleming of Demopolis, Alan Blanchard, Nicholas Blanchard and Jenna Blanchard, all of Lake Mary, Fla.