Dr. Lamar Lafayette Fleming of Augusta, GA; Atlanta, GA; and Greenville, SC, passed away on August 14, 2022, in Greenville, South Carolina. His passing is a result of his struggle with COVID and Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Fleming was born January 21, 1939, in Augusta, Georgia, where he spent his childhood. Dr. Fleming was devout in his love of Christ, Family, University of Georgia Bulldogs, and the practice of Orthopaedics Medicine. Dr. Fleming based his life on the old Camp Carolina Hymn by H. A. Walter, “I would be true for there are those who trust me.”
Dr. Fleming attended high school in Augusta, GA, at Richmond Academy, Class of 1957 (the oldest public military high school in the United States). There he played center on the 1956 Georgia State High School Championship football team. He received many honors while at the Academy, including the Gold R and the Sheridan Sabre, the school’s highest honor. He also lettered in basketball, football, and tennis, and was inducted into the Richmond Academy Hall of Fame.
He graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Georgia, Class of 1961, with a BS degree in Organic Chemistry. During that time, he was president of SAE and Phi Beta Kappa. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Medical College of Georgia, Class of 1965, and received the distinguished alumni award in 2011. While at MCG, he was a member of the Scholastic Honor Society, and was awarded AOA in his third year.
Dr. Fleming completed his internship and training in internal medicine at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, TX; his General Surgery Residency at Talmadge Memorial Hospital in Augusta, GA; and completed his Orthopaedic Surgery Residency at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, NC. He was a veteran of the US Navy, serving as a Naval Flight Surgeon, obtaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
Dr. Fleming acted as the Chief of Orthopaedics at the VA, Grady Memorial, and Emory University Hospitals in Atlanta, GA, before becoming Department Chair. He was an excellent surgeon, most recognized for his clinical expertise in hand and foot surgery. During his 15-year tenure as Department Chair, he recruited talented faculty and guided the Emory Orthopaedic Department through significant growth in size and national prominence. He started the Emory Sports and Spine Center which led to the expansion of Emory Orthopeadics throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area. He founded the Emory Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Alumni Organization, the Robert Kelly Society, which is still active today. He received the Emory Distinguished Medical Achievement Award in 2012. Throughout his career, he held multiple leadership positions in local (President of Atlanta Orthopaedic Society), state (President of Georgia Orthopaedic Society), regional (President of Eastern Orthopaedic Association and Southern Orthopaedic Association), and national (President of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society) organizations. He was awarded the distinguished Southern Orthopaedist by the SOA. He published over 40 peer reviewed articles and served on several editorial boards. He achieved the rank of Professor in the Emory School of Medicine during his active career and continued as Professor Emeritus of Emory University following retirement.
Despite all of his work in research and academia, Dr. Fleming never lost sight of the care of his patients. This was his first and highest calling. Dr. Fleming was a larger-than-life personality and although he was a tough disciplinarian when called for, he was also caring, concerned, and encouraging. He was smart, intense, humorous, and as skilled in the art of wit as he was with the scalpel, screw, and plate. He never met a stranger and cherished his colleagues and residents. He believed that everyone within the four walls of the hospital played an important role in the overall care of the patient, from the maintenance staff to the surgeons, and he loved them all.
Dr. Fleming was an athlete, avid outdoorsman, and travel enthusiast. He loved to snow ski, water ski, cycle, play tennis, and hunt. He especially loved playing golf with his friends at the Capital City Club and the Piedmont Driving Club, where he was a member while living in Atlanta. He was also a member of the Lake Rabun Association.
Dr. Fleming was a loving husband, doting father, caring uncle, surrogate grandfather, and mentor to hundreds of trainees under his watch. His residents knew him as a father figure to whom they could always turn for guidance, not only for tough Orthopaedic problems, but also for hurdles in their personal lives. “Dr. Fleming” stories are always told during gatherings of his former residents and faculty. He was respected and loved by all and will be deeply missed, but his legacy and impact will live on through those whose lives he touched.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 53 years, Sally Hurt Fleming, who was at his bedside when he peacefully passed away; daughters, Anne Ridley Fleming of Greenville, SC, and Sarah Sibley Fleming of Atlanta, GA; sister, Florence “Florrie” Fleming Corley of Marietta, GA; many nieces and nephews, and by the 400 plus Orthopaedic women and “boys” he had the honor and privilege to teach the practice of Orthopaedics over his 39 plus year career. As Dr. Fleming said, “The greatest pleasure has been to be a part of the training and lives of so many residents and help guide their Orthopaedic careers. God has made me a very blessed man.”
Dr. Fleming was preceded in death by his father, William Cornelius Fleming; mother, Sarah Virginia Sibley Fleming; and brothers, William Henry Fleming II and Samuel Hale Sibley Fleming.
The family would like to thank Mike Delello for his assistance with Dr. Fleming’s end of life care, and to W. Aaron Conley and his children, Henry and Charles, for bringing so much joy to Dr. Fleming’s life these last five years.
Dr. Fleming’s remains will be laid to rest by his family in Augusta, GA. A religious service celebrating his life will be held on Friday, September 16, 2022, 2:00 p.m., at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Greenville, SC, with a reception to follow.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Greenville Area Parkinson Society, P.O. Box 6505 Greenville, SC 29609, www.gapsonline.org or St. Paul’s Anglican Church, 304 E. Camperdown Way, Greenville, SC 29601.
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