Neil Wayne Fleming was born on April 22, 1943, in Grafton, North Dakota to Charlie and Nina (Geiger) Fleming. He grew up on the family farm in Hamilton as the oldest of three brothers.
Neil died at home on February 14, 2017, as the result of liver failure caused by exposure to Agent Orange in the service of his country in Vietnam.
Neil graduated from Hamilton High School and attended the University of North Dakota, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a Juris Doctorate from the UND Law School.
While at UND, Neil met Charlotte Conner, and they entered into a truly blessed union of marriage which lasted more than fifty years and led to four children whom he loved very much.
After serving in the Army, Neil returned home with his young family and started practicing law in Cavalier. Neil served a term as Pembina County State's Attorney and then opened a successful private law practice. The firm later expanded to include several partners and associates, including his current law partner of 35 years Larry Dubois and Neil's son Robert.
Neil's clients never doubted that they had a strong advocate in their corner. Neil valued ethics and honesty, and his were impeccable. Neil also lived a life of committed public service. He once suggested that he probably spent more time on volunteer service than he did in the practice of law.
He credited both his dad Charlie for instilling in him a sense of civic duty, and Charlotte for helping him in every endeavor. In Neil's eyes, one should always be fully engaged in whatever he or she was doing, and to strive for excellence with attention to detail.
Neil's lifelong love of fairs began at age 10 at the Pembina County Fair and continued until the end of his life with long service as Secretary/Treasurer of the North Dakota Association of Fairs, three decades on the Pembina County Fair Board including a term as President, and 20 years as a member of the North Dakota State Fair Board of Directors.
Neil also felt passionately about the quality of health care in his community, serving on the Board of the Pembina County Memorial Hospital and Nursing Home and its Foundation, as well as the local American Legion and the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity at UND. Neil's passion and commitment to his work and community led him to receive numerous national and state awards and honors. One of the honors he was most proud of was being the only non-medical professional appointed to 24-member national small and rural health council.
Neil's focus on his own pursuits was complemented with tenderness and generosity for his 12 beloved grandchildren: Kellie, Lauren, Brooke (his special birthday buddy) and Sarah Fleming; Jaxen and Charles Fleming; Andrew and Ryan Fleming; and Michael, Alison, Abigail and Megan Olson. Extended family was important in Neil's life; he was the organizer of periodic reunions of the cousins on both the Fleming and Geiger sides of the family.
In Neil's last years and especially the last few months, the blessing of his marriage and God's grace was evident to all in the compassion and support he received from Charlotte through an endless journey of medical tests and appointments, for which their family will be eternally grateful, as they are for Tom and Becky's hospitality in the final few months.
Neil is survived by Charlotte and their four children and their families: James and Terri Fleming, Robert Fleming and Sandy Arangio, Thomas and Becky Fleming, and Catherine and Joseph Olson; his grandchildren; his brother Dutch and Sherry; his sisters-in-law Arliss Fleming and Liz Simons; and 9 nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Charles (Chuck) Fleming.
A Funeral Mass for Neil will be held at 1:00 p.m., Monday, February 20, 2017 at St. Bridgid's Catholic Church in Cavalier, ND. Visitation will be held Sunday, February 19th from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. with a 6:00 p.m. vigil service at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Pembina County Fair for the new barn or St. Bridgid's Catholic Church.
February 16, 2017