UW Mourns Passing Of George Fleming (1938-2021)
George Fleming, one of the heroes of the Washington football team's victories in the 1960 and 1961 Rose Bowls, and who went on to a long career in public office, has died at the age of 83, his family has confirmed.
Fleming, originally from Dallas, Texas, won three letters (1958-60) as a halfback, kicker and return specialist at UW, helping lead the Huskies to back-to-back conference championships in 1959 and 1960, the 1960 National Championship, and victories in Pasadena after each of those seasons.
Following his professional football career with the Oakland Raiders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers, he entered public service, first for one term in the Washington State House of Representatives beginning in 1968, then in the State Senate, where he was the first Black member. He remained in the Senate for 20 years before retiring in 1990, and earned a reputation for championing causes for those in need and for advocating for civil rights
Fleming was co-MVP of the 1960 Rose Bowl, when Washington beat Wisconsin, 44-8, to cap a 10-1 season. In that win, he scored on a 53-yard punt return, made a field goal and kicked five extra points. He also had a 55-yard, non-scoring punt return in that game. He went on to earn first-team all-conference and all-coast in 1960 as the Huskies knocked off No. 1 Minnesota in the Rose Bowl to finish another 10-1 season.
"Our Husky family is mourning the loss of the remarkable George Fleming," said UW director of athletics Jennifer Cohen. "After fulfilling his dream of playing in the Rose Bowl, George – who was one of the greatest players of his era – was later named to the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame for helping the Huskies make multiple trips to Pasadena. His impact stretched far beyond the football field as George made our community and state better. He used his platform in politics to be a role model and advocate for the underprivileged. He will be dearly missed by his Husky family and all who knew him. My heart goes out to his wife, Tina, and daughters, Sonja and Yemi."
In 1980, as a part of the second-ever class of inductees, Fleming earned a place in the Husky Hall of Fame. Only two Husky football players – Hugh McElhenny and Chuck Carroll – were inducted before him. In 2011, he was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Tina; daughters Sonja and Yemi; and five grandchildren: Arica Chris, Micah, Myles, and Nyah.
Fleming Family Statement:
"It is with great sadness that we announce that former Washington State Senator George Fleming passed away peacefully at his home in Seattle surrounded by family at the age of 83. Fleming led an incredible and awe-inspiring life that was dedicated to public service and advocacy for the?underrepresented. For twenty-two years, he represented the 37th District, first in the Washington State House of Representatives for two years, then in the State Senate for twenty years, during which time he held the highest-ranking member-elected position of Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman for over a decade. Fleming was also an accomplished football player and star of the 1960 and 1961 Rose Bowls, including co-MVP of the 1960 game and member of the 1960 National Championship team, followed by stints with the Oakland Raiders of the American Football League and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. Fleming was inducted into the University of Washington Hall of Fame in 1980, named a Husky Legend in 1998, and inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 2012. Fleming's most cherished role was lovingly raising his two daughters, Sonja and Yemi, with his wife, Tina, of 54 years, and spending time with their five grandchildren, all of whom will miss him dearly. "