‘A Patriot In The Best Sense Of The Word’: Alachua County Activist Terry Fleming Dies At 58

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Local government officials shared the news today that Terry Fleming died, prompting a flood of responses from a grieving community. He was 58.

Fleming was known as a long-time champion of human rights and a pillar in the Alachua County community. He served as co-president of the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida and state committeeman of the Alachua County Democratic Party. He was formerly president of Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus.

“Terry was never still,” said Stephen Gaskill, president of the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus. “He was always moving. Always with a Starbucks coffee in hand. Continually working on seven projects at one time and generally successfully, which was what was amazing.”

Of his many projects, Gaskill said Fleming was proudest of his work to ban conversion therapy in Alachua County.

“The law that he helped pass became a model for not only the state of Florida but cities around the country,” Gaskill said. “I know that mattered the most to him because he was so focused on protecting LGBTQ youth.”

Gainesville City Commissioner Harvey Ward mourned Fleming’s passing in a Facebook post, and urged the community to continue his work.

“I knew Terry as a true and committed activist,” Ward wrote, “as an unparalleled organizer, as a patriot in the best sense of the word, as a conflicted but dedicated and fully-believing Episcopalian Christian, but mostly as a friend.

“Terry would call regularly to work on thorny problems in our community, but more often, when he called it was to make sure I was OK, and that my family was OK.

“The thing is, I thought I had time to help Terry fix all the things that need fixing in our community. We didn’t. Now we have to fix all those things without him.”

Josh Williams of WUFT News contributed to the reporting for this story.

About Katie Hyson

Katie Hyson is a Report for America Corps Member at WUFT News covering racial and rural inequities in East Gainesville and north central Florida. She can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org. Click here to learn how you can support her reporting.

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