Vale Eric ‘Don’ Fleming
8 May 1935 – 22 July 2021
Sad news today from the Nursery and Garden Industry Victoria with the announcement of the death Eric ‘Don’ Fleming of Fleming’s Nurseries in Victoria. Don died aged 86 on July 22, following a short battle with cancer.He was affectionately known as ‘Pa’ and was surrounded by 15 members of his immediate family as he peacefully left this earth.
Don was best known for his dedication to his work. He was born into the nursery business after father, Eric Fleming, established the nursery growing rootstocks on their Monbulk properties. Don and his siblings were all active and willing participants in the growth and development of the nurseries right up until the 1980s. In 1984 Don and wife Dawn, took over the sole ownership of Fleming’s Nurseries Pty Ltd following his brother, Merv’s, retirement.
This was an exciting time for Don, Dawn and sons Graham and Wes. Many changes and developments were made during this time, and Don’s absolute dedication and passion was the driving force. Don and Dawn retired in the late 1990s.
Some employees from this period are still working with Wes in the business today, including Liz Darmody, who will be well known to many HMAA members, who recalls:
“There was only one Donald, a man that taught us to have good morals, to be honest and have integrity, and he demonstrated this to us every day in his business life and in his personal life. His word was all we needed, if he said he would do it, you knew it would be done.
When I first started with Fleming’s, he, I and Dawn, would leave work on Friday afternoon and travel to Swan Hill to collect budwood all weekend, and return on Sunday night ready for the budders on Monday morning. We would work all weekend and do it all again, week after week during summer.
All the time traveling and collecting buds, he would tell you about the ideas he had for this paddock, or the shed he was going to build, or the truck he was going to buy and modify, or the tractor he wanted to buy and make taller and turn into a digger, or how he was going to make this dam bigger, or look for more land. He would go over and over the ideas talking about them until he had it perfectly worked out in his mind ready for execution. Every angle discussed and thought about, no stone under turned in his mind.
It was often hard for Donald to say you were doing a good job, but he showed it in so many other ways. I loved him and I know he loved me, and that was all that mattered. We may have all had our moments with Donald, but he was never one to hold a grudge and moved on.
He was one of the best and I will miss him.”