Michael Paul Fleming, 71, of Westville, Indiana, passed away unexpectedly on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019.
For family, friends and acquaintances, an informal memorial gathering to share memories of Michael, his treasured historical pictures, and family condolences will be held on Saturday, Sept. 7, from 2 to 6 p.m. at Newhard Funeral Home, Westville, Indiana. A private burial service will be held for the family at Pinhook Cemetery, Pinhook, Indiana.
Michael was born on Feb. 5, 1948, in Michigan City, Indiana, to George E. and Louise (Gielow) Fleming. On April 1, 1972, at Beverly Shores, Indiana, he married his life-long love Kathryn (Kurtz) Fleming, with whom he celebrated 47 years of wedded happiness.
Michael is survived by his cherished wife Kathy; his beloved sons and daughter-in-law, Ryan Fleming, Westville Indiana, and Ian (Kathryn Terrell Johnston) Fleming, Indianapolis, Indiana; his precious grandchildren, Shelby Fleming, Payton Fleming, Broderick Fleming, Lachlan Fleming Johnston, Xavier Godfrey Johnston, Clarke Terrell, Lysanne Rhodes, Nicholas Rhodes and Alexander Spack; and dearly loved family members, Chris Winkler, Melissa Rhodes,and Olivia Clavio.
Also surviving are his beloved sister, Mary Fleming Meska, who raised Michael from age 5, and Mary’s children, his nieces and nephew, Susan (Mark) Dittmer Lauer, Mona Dittmer, Patricia Dittmer and Daniel (Anne) Dittmer; niece Laura (John) Witzgall Dejong; and nephews John Witzgall and Bruce (Sally) Powalski. In addition, Michael is survived by many loving brothers-in-law and sisters-in law, nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews from the Kurtz family.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his sisters Mona Fleming and Corinne (Adam) Fleming Powalski; and his nieces Molly Witzgall Brody, Debbie Bishop and Bonnie Bishop.
Also, his beloved companion on many adventures in everyday life, his poodle, Opal, preceded him in death. Mike and Opal were a familiar sight in Westville, he riding his bike with Opal, his ever-present buddy, at his side or spending time together at area dog parks enjoying the human and canine friendships.
Michael was a lifelong area resident who worked at Bethlehem Steel for 35 years. He retired in 2004 as a Metallurgical Inspector and then continued to work at his own online book store, Countless Pages.
He had a passion for local history and volunteered countless hours locating and documenting area photos, postcards and newspaper articles that he shared with past and present Michigan City residents, as well as Westville and the surrounding area. He was a member of the La Porte County Historical Society and was awarded Historian of the Year for 2014. He was a founding member and former office holder of the Westville Historical Society and a member and moderator for the social media page “Michigan City, IN…A Place to Call Home,” where he shared his historical knowledge with a global community. He was also a charter member of the Westville Jaycees, and co-chairman of the Westville Sesquicentennial Celebration in 2001. He provided historical photos for the Westville Town Hall and historical materials for the Westville Library.
For many years Michael was an avid woodworker who built his own barn, many area sheds, decks, porches and bird feeders as well as beautiful furniture and keepsake items for his wife and family members. When his sons were in Westville Elementary School he planned and participated in simple, hands-on, wood working projects that he taught and supervised with his children’s classmates. And with each thing he built, he also built memories; memories of happy times, memories of jobs well done, memories of time spent with him and memories of him that fill the hearts of his family and friends.
Michael was a very giving man in his lifetime and continued on in his death by giving the “gift of life.” He was an organ donor who was able to make a difference in someone else’s life.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to one of the following:
• La Porte County Park Foundation – Mike Fleming, Creek Ridge Dog Park, PO Box 419, Michigan City, IN 46361-0419
• Michigan City Public Library – Mike Fleming, Historical Fund, 100 E. 4th St., Michigan City, IN 46360
• Westville Historical Society – Mike Fleming, Historical Fund, PO Box 395, Westville, IN 46391