WARREN - Robert E. Fleming, 80, of Warren, died Sunday, Dec. 25, 2011, at Hospice House in Poland.
He was born July 31, 1931, in Ashland, Ky., the son of Claude E. Fleming and Stella Louise Day Fleming.
Robert E. Fleming came to Warren in 1958 as the director of bands at Warren G. Harding High School. He proceeded to establish an outstanding band program that became the model for high school bands.
Mr. Fleming then became the director of bands at Youngstown State University. The marching band and concert bands immediately exhibited the visual excitement and outstanding musical qualities that had become his trademark.
After his retirement at YSU, Mr. Fleming became a professor of music and director of bands at Hiram College. His teaching excellence and commitment to concert bands continued as he developed a College-Community Concert Band that was exemplary in every respect.
Robert retired from the W.D. Packard Concert Band on July 25, 2004. He joined the band in 1959, performing on the trumpet, and became co-conductor in 1983. He also has directed the Big Band Sound of Packard, the Packard Jazz Quintet and the Packard Dixieland Band.
The W.D. Packard Concert Band Executive Board and the Packard Park Board of Trustees have conferred upon Mr. Fleming the honorary designation of Conductor Laureate and Conductor Emeritus. In his honor, the Robert E. Fleming Concerto Competition has been established to present outstanding high school musicians as soloist with the W.D. Packard Concert Band and earn a scholarship for study at the college level.
Mr. Fleming also was instrumental in developing the Top Notes in 1961.
Surviving are his wife, Shirley Ann Fleming of Warren; two sons, James Robert (Joanne) Fleming of Canfield and Mark (Sherri) Fleming of Warren; granddaughter, Patricia (Thomas) Krewson; great-grandson, Connor Krewson; and granddaughters, Jennifer Martin and Jacquelyn Martin; and great-grandchildren, Chuck, Cassie and Tiana.
Friends may call 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the McFarland & Son Funeral Home. A private family graveside burial will be held at Rose Hill Burial Park, Ashland, Ky., with the Rev. Harvey officiating.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org, and Hospice House, 9803 Sharrot Road, Poland, OH 44514
Arrangements are entrusted to McFarland & Son Funeral Services Co., 271 N. Park Ave., Warren, OH 44481. Please visit www.mcfarlandcares.com to view this obituary and send condolences.
Tribune Chronicle March 8, 2010 By Bill Rogers, Tribune Chronicle Harding Honors Former Director
WARREN - A surprise to anyone who had him as a band director: Robert Fleming's own band director was a pretty intimidating guy.
"My high school band director was a tyrant, but he was a good man, and I learned a lot from him," Warren's legendary band director said last week during an interview in his home. He was honored Sunday with a concert and dedication of the Harding band shell.
Band director John Lewis of Ashland High School in Kentucky recruited Fleming from the minors, so to speak. Fleming said Lewis picked him out of the seventh grade musicians to play with the older school band. For the lack of a better practice space, Fleming practiced with his first trumpet inside the school's boiler room.
Shows under Lewis were intense, disciplined things. Fleming remembers walking to the school for a basketball game one day. There was a light drizzle, and he had his band uniform on. When Lewis lined the band up for inspection, he noticed some rain spots on Fleming's uniform and sent him home.
But, according to Fleming, who spent a dedication ceremony in his honor on Sunday thanking everyone who helped him through his long career in music, that was a valuable experience. And years later, Fleming had the opportunity to give his old band director a gift for his birthday, a recording of one of his bands. Fleming watched as the hardened band director teared up.
This probably shouldn't be interpreted as a student-becoming-the-master story, because Fleming also pointed out that Lewis began that meeting by claiming he could still play high C on the trumpet better than Fleming could.
Then he pulled out a trumpet and proved it.
Students with the Warren G. Harding music department had a concert in Fleming's honor Sunday at the high school cafetorium. The ceremony was to dedicate the Robert E. Fleming band shell on the high school football field. Fleming, when accepting his honors, thanked several people who have helped him. For example, he wanted to thank Barney McCauley for his support of the band shell.
He said during the interview at his home last week that he learned an "awful lot" from working with different band directors, musicians, students and music fans over the years.
"I love all the schools I taught at. I love all of my students, no matter how hard I treated them. But I especially love the W.D. Packard Concert Band. ... Warren has been good to me," he said during the dedication ceremony.
Fleming became director of bands at Harding in 1958 and established a band program that was modeled by others throughout the country. Under his direction, the Panther Marching Band achieved national acclaim, performing at football half-time shows and on national television. He was with the school district until 1968.
"He impacted band music and performance throughout not only Ohio but the United States," said district Superintendent Kathryn Hellweg at Sunday's dedication.
Fleming was also the director of bands at Youngstown State University. Following his retirement there, he became professor of music and director of bands at Hiram College.
The W.D. Packard Concert Band Executive Board and Packard Park Board of Trustees conferred upon Fleming the designation of Conductor Laureate and Conductor Emeritus.
In preparing for Sunday's honors, Fleming got to practice with the band. He directed one song, "The Star-Spangled Banner," during the concert. He also had some advice for current students: Don't be afraid of making mistakes.
"If you're going to make a mistake, be like Burger King, make it a whopper. Everyone makes mistakes. I know I've made plenty," he said, noting that sometimes student musicians tend to hold back while playing, so if they make a mistake it will be less obvious.
And though the band shell now - officially, anyway - carries his name, the former band director seemed to be proud that his legacy was being carried on in other ways: in his students that have gone on to be teachers or musicians on their own. Looking around the district's music facilities, he thinks the next generation of musicians are in good hands.
"The desire is still there to have a fine band," he said.
Tribune Chronicle Saturday, July 10, 2009
Noon in the Park • July 9, 2009 • Courthouse Park • Warren, Ohio Photos by Tribune Chronicle CU Staff
Dr. John O. Vlad, director of the Top Notes
Cara and Caitlyn Annandono at Noon in the Park. The sisters are daughters of band members Brian and Jenny Annandono and granddaughters of Dr. John O. Vlad
Hiram Magazine Class Notes Hiram College 2009
John O. Vlad – Class of 1956
In October 2008, John O. Vlad ’56 was inducted into the Warren City Athletic Hall of Fame by life long friend Bill White ’56. On the heels of this honor, in November, Vlad Pediatrics, Inc. was awarded the 2009 Small Business Philanthropy Award by the National Society of Fundraising Executives for his support of the Trumbull County Relay for Life (American Cancer Society) and many other local non-profit organizations. Proud family members include: Mary Alice (Roberts) Vlad ’56, Melanie A. Vlad ’87, Steve Schubert, Jennifer (Vlad) Annandono ’90 and Brian Annandono ’90.
Top Notes pay tribute to big band era By ANDY GRAY Tribune Chronicle July 10, 2008
The last of the Dixie Docs is counting off the beat for The Top Notes.
long-running local dance/big band got its start in 1960 as the Dixie
Docs, a band filled with doctors who also were musicians. Its first
performance was a holiday party sponsored by the county Medical Society.
Dr. John Vlad was part
of that original band and has been the one constant as it evolved into
the The Top Notes under original bandleader Hank Suchanek and later
under the direction of Robert E. Fleming. Vlad, who plays saxophone and
clarinet, became music director in the mid-'90s and will lead the band
when it performs Saturday
at the Warren Community Amphitheatre as part of the Summer Night
Specials series presented by the Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County.
Dr. John Vlad at the Warren Community Amphitheatre on July 12, 2008
the only original doctor member there, the others in the band thought
it would be a good idea for me to continue on (as director) if I wanted
the job,” Vlad said. “It's no challenge because the people in the band
are excellent. They know what they are there to do, and all I have to
do is count off the beat.”
Vlad credited Fleming for making the band what it is today.
As the doctors dropped out, Fleming replaced them them with his
students from Dana School of Music, many of whom went on to become band
directors in the area and continue to play with the Top Notes.
Since the Saturday
concert lineup at the amphitheatre has been dominated by classic rock
tribute bands, Vlad decided to continue that with The Top Notes'
“We're going to make it a tribute to all of the big
bands,” Vlad said. “We’ll do music from all of the popular big bands,
starting in the 1930s and '40s and up to the present time.”
crowd can expect to hear songs by Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Duke
Ellington, Les Brown, Harry James and Stan Kenton, and The Top Notes
will even do a song by Jimmy Buffett.
“We have a very large
library of music and we try to stay current with current arrangements
of all the old tunes,” Vlad said. “It’s a diverse group. We're not
stuck on just playing dance music. We play jazz, swing and also current
Vlad said he has seen big band music grow and wane in
popularity during his musical career, and he believes its enjoying a
“This type of music hasn't been in the fore all
the time, but it keeps sticking its head back in,” he said. “The show
‘Dancing with the Stars’ has brought it back.”