Frederic Alexander (Freck) Fleming, Jr. an influential figure in Houston’s agriculture, civic, and arts scene died on June 1, 2021. Among his many life accomplishments were improving a breed of cattle, encouraging responsible environmental practices, and collaborating with his wife and true love, Betty, to make Houston a more vibrant, livable, and sustainable city.
Frederic A. Fleming, Jr., was born July 27, 1926, in Denver, Colorado, to parents Frederic (“Fritz”) Alexander Fleming and Lillian Giddings Wilkin. The family moved to and stayed in Houston, residing at 4823 Mandell. His siblings Marian Wilkin and Robert Seton were born in Houston. Freck attended Edgar Allen Poe Elementary, Sidney Lanier, and Lamar High School, graduating in 1943.
He attended Texas A&M, College Station for one year, then enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces. When World War II ended, Freck returned to Texas and enrolled at The University of Texas, Austin. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and Phi Eta Sigma. Freck graduated magna cum laude with a business degree in 1949.
Freck was employed by Anderson Clayton Cotton Exchange classifying cotton under USDA standards for marketing, where he met and worked with many lifelong friends. Subsequently, he and his family incorporated Fleming Land and Cattle Company near Addicks, where he joined pioneers in developing and promoting the Brangus strain for 20 years. He is listed in the Brangus Breeders Hall of Fame.
Among Freck’s many civic contributions were his tenures on the Board of the Soil Conservation District, the Federal Land Bank, and the Houston Council on Human Relations. He was Administrative Assistant to the Director of the Houston-Galveston Area Council and chaired the H-GAC Area Health Commission.
On December 4, 1971, Freck married Betty Ross Schaake, in the small chapel of Bering Church on Hawthorne Street. They lived in a cottage on the cattle ranch (known as “Bear Creek Farm”) for two years before selling the herd to an established breeder, as well as his portion of the family property to Friendswood Development Company. He and Betty then moved to Parc V on Montrose Blvd., overlooking downtown Houston. Freck served as the first president of the Parcs Board.
Although he formally "retired” at the age of 50, Freck’s retirement was unconventional.
In 1974, Freck and Betty took their first trip together to Europe, sailing out of New York Harbor, traveling extensively for over four months. This led to seven years of intermittent travel, sailing always on the Queen Elizabeth II and spending time on return in New York City. The cruise director and several staff members serving on the Cradle of Civilization and the Pacific and Orient World Cruises, visited the Flemings in Houston and enjoyed their warm hospitality.
On September 28, 1981, with business partners, Freck and Betty opened Pinky Hull’s Paradise Bar & Grill at 401 McGowan, serving lunch and happy hour. The venue was renamed Paradise Bar & Grill and featured live jazz on weekends, including Basirah and Company, Arnett Cobb, Milt Larkin, Jimmy Ford, Stu Lanning, Phillipe LeJeune, and many others. It was one of Houston’s most memorable jazz venues.
Freck was one of the 19 founders of the Houston Center for Photography, and Paradise was the venue for the organization’s inaugural meeting on October 14, 1981. He and Betty were also early supporters FotoFest. In addition to championing the work of others, Freck was an accomplished photographer, exhibiting with Rick Gardner at the Cronin Gallery.
After Paradise closed in May, 1989 Freck joined the Midtown Redevelopment Board—for which he presented the petition to Houston City Council approving TIRZ for Midtown. Freck was active in Harris County Democrats all his adult life, and was a lifetime member of Trinity Episcopal Church, Houston.
Freck is survived by his wife Betty and a large and loving circle of friends and family who will keep his memory alive with stories from a life well-lived. The family wants to thank Garden Terrace for helping to care for Freck during his final years, especially Sofia Tapia, Kristine Hurtado, Voner Jamerson, Trenel Cass, Theresa Vitug, Merlinda Duplessis, Maria Aguirre, Avis Jarrett, Philomena Scott, Sonia Regalado, and Kristine Itable, and Vantage Hospice’s June Lawfon.