Samuel W. Fleming III ’48 died on March 4, 2018, in Scarborough, Maine.
(The following was published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 9, 2018:)
Samuel W. Fleming III, 91, formerly of Wayne, a Philadelphia brokerage-firm executive, died Sunday, March 4, of complications from Parkinson’s disease at a retirement facility in Scarborough, Maine, where he had lived for the last fifteen years.
Mr. Fleming worked at W.H. Newbold’s Son & Co. Inc., a small brokerage company, starting in 1956. For the first twelve years, he was a broker and then partner at the firm’s Harrisburg office. But in the summer of 1968, after the brokerage house lost managing partner John S. Newbold, Mr. Fleming stepped in and led the company from offices in Philadelphia. He remained managing partner from 1968 until 1988.
In 1986, as the financial services industry began to consolidate, Inquirer business writer Peter Binzen described the firm as conservatively run and catering to wealthy Main Line clients. The understated Mr. Fleming said: “We weren’t world beaters, but we kept moving forward,” when asked to characterize the firm’s performance from 1975 to 1980.
Binzen wrote that it wasn’t like Mr. Fleming or his company “to boast about anything.”
In the mid-1980s, Newbold’s was ranked third among Philadelphia brokerage houses with seats on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1984, it was acquired by Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co., and in 1991 was bought out by Fahnestock & Co., a large brokerage firm. Mr. Fleming retired in 1988.
“One of the things I admired in him is the genuine interest he took in other people,” said his friend Alec Walsh. “This made him a success professionally, whether at W.H. Newbold’s or his other stops.
“Given that I was in the same business, when I would see him, he would want to know what I was up to. His advice was never specific, but broad-based and eternal: ‘Make sure the client’s interest comes first.’”
After Mr. Fleming retired, he and his wife, Beverly, moved to Charleston, S.C., where he became president of Yeaman’s Hall Golf Club. His best friend in Charleston was fellow golfer Peter Lawson-Johnston.
“Under his leadership as club president, Yeaman’s Hall flourished,” Lawson-Johnston wrote in 2015 when Mr. Fleming was honored at a club dinner. That same year, the golf committee decided to honor Mr. Fleming by awarding the winner of a member/guest tournament the “Fleming Trophy.”
Born in Bellefonte, Centre County, Pa., Mr. Fleming graduated from William Penn High School, Harrisburg, in 1944. He served in the Army from 1945 to 1946 and was based in Trinidad and Las Vegas. He graduated in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
Mr. Fleming worked for his father’s Harrisburg civil engineering firm, Gannett Fleming Inc., from 1949 until joining Newbold’s.
When not working, Mr. Fleming enjoyed writing poems about friends and family. In addition to golf, he enjoyed tennis, skiing, and sailing off Martha’s Vineyard during the summer.
Charismatic, with a great sense of humor, Mr. Fleming attracted many friends. He told amusing stories with just the right timing and had a knack for having fun, said son Samuel Fleming IV.
“And he had that flair without the ego that so often accompanies that kind of person. He was self-deprecating in the real sense of the word,” his son said.
One story Mr. Fleming loved to tell was about the time in the mid-1960s that he and Brooks Wright, a friend from Harrisburg, attended a Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga.
Golf rivals Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer were on the 18th green on the final day of play. As Nicklaus lined up the winning putt, Wright, a Palmer fan, called out: “It breaks to the right, Jack,” although Wright knew the opposite to be true.
Smiling, Nicklaus realized the comment had come from a Palmer fan. Nicklaus sunk the putt and won the Masters that year.
Walsh, Mr. Fleming’s friend who is from Basking Ridge, N.J., said: “He was one of the great ones. Just being in his presence put a smile on people’s faces, and they wanted to be with him. They knew a joke was coming, or some irony would be uncovered that he would know just how to subtly frame.”
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Fleming is survived by daughters Sally Tomkins and Nan Fleming; son Peyton Fleming; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.