My Turn: Remembering local legend Ray Fleming
By Philip McClung
Ask folks in the Salisbury area about the name Ray Fleming and you will get responses like, “Oh, yeah, he was the candy guy” or “Of course, I know Ray — I bought all my fishing tackle from him.” One thing I know for sure is that Ray touched the lives of thousands of people in many different ways, and I have never met a single person who had something bad to say about him.
Ray was a founding member of our local fishing club, the Salisbury Bassmasters. Although it is true he could be found most weekend mornings out fishing on the lake, he also used his place in the club to do some good in the community by holding fishing tournaments for kids and helping to raise money for charities. You could always see the happiness in his eyes when he had a good day on the water, but you could see that his true joy came when he helped someone else or a group of people have a great day on the water.
Ray unexpectedly passed away last year in a car accident and left behind some big shoes to fill in our club and in our lives. We wanted to do something special in his memory to keep doing some good in our community and help his family honor his memory. With this line of thinking, the Ray Fleming Memorial Tournament was born. We held our first event on April 30 of this year with the expectation of making this an annual occurrence. We had a total of 51 boats come out to participate in the tournament with the winner taking home $1,000. We kept 10 percent of all entries to donate to charity in Ray’s name. We also had quite a list of sponsors who donated supplies to us for a paid raffle that we had after the weigh-in. Between the entry fees and the money raised through the raffle, we came up with $2,100 to donate.
Prior to the event, we had a long conversation with his son Mike Fleming, who is also in our club. He felt that his dad would prefer the money stay at a local charity, and since Ray loved helping the kids, we decided to donate the money to the Nazareth Children and Family Connection, formerly known as the Nazareth Children’s Home. We had numerous fishermen come to us following the tournament telling us that they had a great time and they were really happy to be helping such a good cause. It truly was a great day to spend with everyone. We do have a Facebook Page for the Ray Fleming Memorial Tournament if you would like to go see some of the photos and information regarding the event. It will also be used when we start posting information for the tournament next year.
Life is definitely a journey where the unexpected is lurking around every corner. You cannot be prepared for everything that may come your way, but one very important thing I learned from the time I spent with Ray was you simply need to enjoy life with a smile on your face and be willing to help others. That is a very simple recipe that he truly had no problem following. I am grateful to Ray for all that he ever shared with me and really love hearing all the stories from other people who knew him as well. Hope to see you all out on the water and I have no doubt that Ray is out there watching over us all!