In memoriam: William R. “Bill” Fleischman, Jr.
William R. “Bill” Fleischman passed away on May 1, 2019.
Fleischman, the son of William R. Fleischman Sr. and Mary Gallagher Fleischman, was born in Chester, Pennsylvania on April 8, 1939. He attended Germantown High School and graduated from Gettysburg College in 1960 with a major in English and minor in history.
While at Gettysburg, Fleischman met his wife, Barbara, in a modern poetry class.
“He used to joke that he was the only thing I got out of that class,” Barbara said.
After working at his college newspaper, Fleischman went on to become a sports editor at the Burlington County Times (1961-66) and at the News Journal (1966-69). He then went on to cover auto racing, U.S. Open Tennis Championships, college basketball and the Philadelphia Flyers for the Philadelphia Daily News from 1969 until 2005.
According to Barbara, he loved journalism because he loved people, and he could make anybody laugh with his subtle yet infectious sense of humor and his seemingly endless catalogue of stories.
In addition to his work at the newspaper, Fleischman was an adjunct professor at the university for 28 years, and was dearly loved by his students.
Andy West, the current managing editor of the Delaware State News, took two classes with Fleischman.
“He encouraged us and criticized us in the way that an old-school newspaper editor would,” West stated in a Facebook post. “It never stopped once we graduated and moved on in this newspaper business. Of my memories, one that stands out is that I had written a weak Blue Hens feature and called it a column. He said that if I had a column, I should say something — use it, have an opinion.”
Indeed, Fleischman remained involved in his students’ careers long after they graduated, he continued correspondence with them, attended their weddings and sat beside them in press boxes, said former student Tara Coates.
“I started calling him Coach,” Coates said when she gave remarks at his funeral service. “As anyone who has played or covered sports knows, coaches have a special bond with their players, and players have a respect for a coach that transcends all relationships. I feel like we are all a part of a team, and we were blessed to learn from a legend.”
Fleischman’s dedication was not just limited to his career. His daughter Jill Herr recalled that Fleischman always made time for his family.
He taught her how to ride a bike and took her to auto races and other sports games with him. Jill’s childhood summers were set to a soundtrack of Frank Sinatra, one of Bill’s favorites, and the voice of Harry Kalas calling the Philadelphia Phillies games on television.
Fleischman’s gentle fortitude, love and dedication transcend his life and continue to provide comfort and inspiration to his family.
“After he passed away, I sort of just keep thinking how he would want me to handle it how he would have comported himself,” Herr said. “When I was thinking about — I have to go back to work on Monday — he would have wanted me to do that. He wouldn’t have wanted me sitting around moping. He felt his feelings, but he also took his responsibilities.”
He is predeceased by daughter Heather Fleischman and survived by his wife Barbara, as well as his daughter and son-in-law, Jill and Roger Herr, his brother and sister-in-law, Charles “Chuck” and Peg Fleischman; brother-in-law, Greg Fridinger (Karen); three nephews, Keith Fleischman, John Fleischman and Jon Fridinger; three nieces, Kelly Fridinger, Sara Fridinger and Maggie Karpauskas; and many extended family members.