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Robert Bentley Fleming

Robert Bentley Fleming

Robert Bentley Fleming died peacefully on the 1st of October, 2016, under the care of hospice. Bob was born on Sunday, the 3rd of March, 1929, in Shelbyville, Indiana, the son of Wray E. Fleming and Phoebe J. Fleming (née Bentley). He grew up in Indianapolis with his sister Nancy and brother Bill.
He graduated from Purdue University in Engineering in 1951, where he played clarinet in jazz bands. He served in the United States Army in Frederick, Maryland from 1953 to 1955. His dear friend Richard “Bonar” Stillinger helped him survive Army life through a constant supply of puns. Bob always said that serving in the military was the best thing that ever happened to him, because he met his beloved Betty. He won her heart during the “Battle of Magnolia Avenue”. Bob and Betty were married in 1955. While a PhD student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bob built refrigerators that achieved temperatures so low that atoms themselves slowed down and fell asleep, and leftovers could be stored for millions of years. In 1962, Dr. Bob and Betty moved to Schenectady, New York, where Bob took a job at General Electric.
He was a wonderful father. With his two young sons, Bob gamely went sailing and canoeing and hiking and camping, even though his idea of an ideal outdoor experience was a dinner at a French restaurant with the window open. He once stunned one of his sons – who had not suspected that his mild-mannered father had been a jazz musician — by pulling down a clarinet from a top shelf of a closet, dusting it off, and launching into George Gerschwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.
After Bob’s brother, Bill, died in 1965, Bob remained devoted to Bill’s wife Dottie and daughter, Kathy. Many years later, when Kathy married Jerry Joest, it was Bob who walked her down the aisle. In the mid-1970s, he blazed new trails in computer technology while assisting with Betty’s accounting for her new children’s bookstore, the Open Door. This was a time when few people had computers, and even fewer men supported their wives to follow their dreams. Bob found his life’s work in 1976, when he joined Princeton University’s Plasma Physics Laboratory. Bob also led Princeton’s Amnesty International for more than 30 years, and worked in many different community organizations. In 2014, he was honored for his work by the Princeton Democratic Committee for his many years of service to the committee and the Princeton Community.
He is survived by his wife Betty Fleming (née Agatha Paulyne Bolger), his sister Nancy (Fleming) Hope, his son Stuart Scott Fleming and daughter-in-law Harumi Kashi Fleming, his son Douglas Theodore Fleming and partner Christina Mueller, his daughter-in-law Robin Ann Buckingham, and his grandchildren, Lucy Hannah Buckingham Fleming and Daniel Theodore “Teo” Buckingham Fleming and Audrey Haruka Kashi Fleming, his sister-in-law Dorothy “Dottie” Fleming and brothers-in-law David Bolger, Barbara (Bolger) Collett, Daniel Bolger, and many nieces and nephews. The family will have a celebration of Bob’s life at a later time. In the meantime, donations in his name can be made to Amnesty International (https://www.amnesty.org/en/).

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