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Randolph I. Fleming

Randolph I. FlemingApril 17, 2022

Randolph Ingersoll Fleming had a lot in common with his father Robert Ingersoll Fleming. Both men were Yale graduates: Robert Ingersoll with the class of 1949 and Randolph Ingersoll with the class of 1966. Both men participated in rigorous military service: Robert was a Paratrooper in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in World War II just before entering Yale, and Randolph was a Platoon Commander in the U.S. Navy just after graduating from Yale. Randy served with his Basic Underwater Demolition Team, the elite and brutally arduous parent entity now known as the Navy SEALS.

Both Fleming men’s life careers took them abroad: Robert’s 35 year service as a diplomat focusing on international development in Africa, primarily in Ghana and Nigeria. In Ghana, he had been an early supporter and mentor of Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first Prime Minister and President. Randy had a very successful lifelong career in international business and agricultural development. He spent almost 20 years in Honduras, and his last job was in Mindanao, Philippines. Randy died on Easter Sunday: April 17, 2022. He had been born in Macon, GA on July 15, 1944 the son of Robert and Margaret Fleming.

Randy entered Yale in the fall of 1962 from Lagos, Nigeria, and lived in 1092 Bingham. He joined 41 classmates from Andover; he had also attended Cheshire Academy. He was an Economics Major and a member of Berkeley College where he was widely known as affable, independent, and smart. He noted in our 50th reunion book that his Yale activities included lacrosse, rugby, soccer and wrestling. After graduating from Yale in 1966 Randy enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He wrote for our 50th Reunion:
“I had three wonderful years in the U.S. Navy serving in the UDT/SEAL community to the rank of Lt. and mainly as a Platoon Commander, luckily for me, not in Viet Nam. The famous BUDS [Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL] program was one of the more formative experiences of my life, from which the lessons I learned have stayed with me.”

Following discharge from the Navy in 1969, Randy attended Harvard Business School, married Viviannia “Bonnie” Chopitea Burlingame in 1970, and received an MBA in 1972. Randy and Bonnie had six children and eventually numerous grandchildren, and were married for 52 years. They lived a truly global existence. Throughout most of his career, the Fleming family maintained a U.S. base in Osterville, MA. For our 50th he summed up his career this way:

“I have worked for nine different entities of which Dole Food Company has commanded my attention the longest (20 years, largely in Honduras… then 18 years away from Dole… and now back with them running their pineapple operations in the Philippines).”

For our 35th Randy had written enthusiastically from Belize, the small independent nation on the eastern coast of central America:

“Our new home was completed some six months ago here and we love the setting. To the east, in the distance, one can see the Caribbean. To the west are tall green mountains. To the back of the house is a wall of jungle, while at the front are some one hundred square miles of citrus groves, jungle, river bottom, and swamps, and small farms.”

“I have no idea what the next five years will bring. I hope they will be less turbulent than the last five, but on the other hand there is something to be said about the excitement.”

Finally, “Yale now seems far away, but I have very fond memories of it and of the people I knew there.”
Randy Fleming embraced the large life he and his family lived around the globe. As a friend once remarked, “Randy had a smile that made his eyes disappear.” In his retirement he wrote an autobiography to share with his family members. The final lines were: “Be well, be happy, and know that you are part of a chain of people who have come before you who, given the chance, would love you. I know I do.”

— Steve Clement