Office of the President

December 8, 2021

Remembering Husky legend and state civil rights leader, George Fleming, ‘64

Ana Mari Cauce

Yesterday, we lost a treasured alumnus and path-breaking leader of our state with the passing of Senator George Fleming, ‘64. Senator Fleming was a true Husky Football legend, but he made an even bigger impact off the field through his decades of public service and committed advocacy for civil rights and equal access to education. He will be missed, but his legacy lives on all throughout the UW community and across our state.

As part of the 1960-61 Husky Football team Fleming was pivotal to the team’s Rose Bowl win that year, kicking a 44-yard field goal to set what was, at the time, the record for longest Rose Bowl kick. An inductee of both the Husky Hall of Fame and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame, he was the highest drafted Husky to go into the National Football League in 1961, and he played professional football in the NFL and Canadian Football League and until 1966. Just two years later, he was elected to the Washington House of Representatives, beginning a 22-year career in public service marked by numerous signature achievements in advancing racial equality.

Fleming was the first African American to be elected to the Washington State Senate. He created the state’s Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. He was a life-long advocate for policies to create economic and educational opportunity for underrepresented minorities, including helping to spearhead the Washington MESA Program. He fought tirelessly for the state to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, improve the quality of education, support small business and economic development, and advance civil rights. He also worked to improve the quality of nursing homes and advocated for low-income housing and emergency meals and shelter for people in need.

George Fleming embodied the very best of what it means to be a Husky, from his achievements as a student-athlete to his life-long commitment to public service, equity and inclusion. The impact of his life is measured in countless ways – through the policies he helped to enact and through his vision, which continues to inspire us to carry his legacy forward. We offer our deepest sympathies to the Fleming family and all of his loved ones.