Elvis Eugene Fleming was born in a dugout in Bailey County, Texas, on August 1, 1936. He was the tenth child in the blended family of Edward B. Fleming and Ima E. Garvin Fleming. Elvis attended grades one through four at Wilson School at Maple; it consolidated with others to from Three Way School in 1945. Fleming graduated from Three Way in 1953 at the age of sixteen.
Elvis is survived by his children Fran Fleming Gustafson and her children Rikki and Nicholas Gustafson. His Son, Edward E Fleming and his children Christina Fleming and his grandchildren Jerimiah, Jasiah, and Isla. Tabitha Ortega and her son, Michael that will be here in April 2019. His brother Carrol Fleming and wife Ona, and their son Steve King. Also, his dear cousin Troy Tyson and his wife Juanice.
Elvis Fleming was a singer and guitarist, so in the fall of 1953 he moved to Fort Worth to seek a career as a musician. He won a talent contest on the Big D Jamboree and sang on a number of other stage and radio shows in the area. His efforts to become a recording artist for the most part were not successful.
Elvis also worked at Montgomery Ward’s, where he met Menza in 1954. They were married on August 13, 1955. In 1958 Elvis started to college at Arlington State College; Menza had gone a year before they married. In 1959, she went part-time on her job and joined Elvis at Arlington for a year. In 1960 they transferred to TCU, and both graduated with bachelor’s degrees in education in 1962. In the fall of 1962 Menza and Elvis took jobs teaching in the secondary schools at Morton, Texas near Elvis’ childhood home. He taught junior high school history. Elvis received the Master of Education degree from TCU in 1965.
The Flemings adopted their daughter Frances Beverley Fleming “Fran” in 1965. Fran was born on May 15, 1965, in Dallas. In the summer if 1967 Elvis accepted a fellowship to attend graduate school at Southern Methodist University. The day after the Flemings moved to Dallas, they picked up their adopted son, Edward Eugene Fleming “Eddie” who was born in Dallas on May 28, 1967. Fleming received the Master of Arts in History degree in 1968, and the family moved back to Morton.
Elvis taught at Morton High School for another year. In 1969, Fleming accepted the position at ENMU-Roswell where he would remain for the next twenty-eight years teaching History and other social sciences. In 1975, he was promoted to Assistant Professor. Over the years, he received the Presidential Award, the NISOD (National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development) Award, and the Kosa Merit Award twice. In 1992, he became Chair of the Division of Liberal Arts and continued in that position until he retired in 1997. Fleming was the first Roswell campus retiree to be granted Emeritus status by the ENMU Board of Regents.
The Flemings were among the founders of Gateway Baptist Church in 1978. The Flemings have been members of Christ’s Church since 1996.
After Elvis’s retirement from teaching at ENMU-Roswell, he devoted his time to Historical activities and cowboy music. He served on the board of directors of the Historical Society of New Mexico from 1988 to 2002 and on the New Mexico Historical Records Advisory Board from 1997 to 2002. Elvis was on the board of the Chaves County Historical Society in the 1970’s serving two years as president, 1977-79. He was re-elected to that board in 1999 and served through 2004. Fleming has been the chief volunteer archivist for the historical society-which changed its name to “Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico” in 1992- since the society opened its museum in 1976. The archives moved into a new “Museum Archives Center” building next door to the museum in the spring of 2004, and the board voted to name the archives the “Elvis E. Fleming Archives & Research Room.”
Even while he was teaching, and especially after he retired, Elvis wrote books and articles about the history of Southeast New Mexico. Several publications and organizations have presented awards to him for his writings. The first was Southwest Heritage magazine, which honored him in 1976 for the best essay in the first five years of the magazine’s publication; the article concerned the Lost Nicholas Nolan Expedition of 1877. In 1994 Fleming was awarded the Gilbert Espinosa Prize for the best article of the year in the New Mexico Historical Review, called ‘“Sockless’ Jerry Simpson: The New Mexico Years, 1902-1905.” Fleming received the Gemoets Prize from the Southern New Mexico Historical Review in 2003 for his article about Chaves County Sheriff Charles W. Haynes. Also in 2003, Fleming was given the Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá Award by the Historical Society of New Mexico in recognition of his biography of the “Father of Roswell,” called Captain Joseph C. Lea: From confederate Guerrilla to New Mexico Patriarch (Yucca Tree Press, 2002). The national Cowboy Symposium and Celebration in Lubbock, Texas gave Fleming the 2004 American cowboy Culture Award in Western History in recognition of the dozen books he has written or co-written on local history of Southeast New Mexico and West Texas.
Elvis and Menza resided at 36 Wildy Dr. for almost 50 years. Elvis spent his last three months in Oregon with his daughter Fran and grandchildren Rikki and Nick.
A funeral service will be held at 1:30 PM, Tuesday, February 19, 2019 at Christ Church with Pastor Lonnie Owens officiating. Interment will follow at South Park Cemetery.
Arrangements are under the personal care of LaGrone Funeral Chapel. Online condolences may be made at www.lagronefuneralchapels.com.