He was elected to the Board of Trust of Vanderbilt University in 1952. He became Chairman of the Board in 1975 and served in this position until 1981, when he retired from the Board. He was Chairman of the Board of Trust at the time of the merger with George Peabody College for Teachers in 1979 and played an important role in bringing the two institutions together. He also was instrumental in the creation of the Owen Graduate School of Management in 1969 and for the creation of the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt in 1981.
Sam Fleming held many civic memberships and served in leadership roles as community activist and philanthropist, in Nashville and nationally, and was an elder of the First Presbyterian Church.
He was honored at Vanderbilt with the dedication of the Fleming Yard on November 6, 1987.
He was married to Josephine Cliffe Fleming, who preceded him in death, and then to Valerie Ellis Fleming. He and Josephine had two children, Joanne and Daniel. Sam Fleming died on January 21, 2000. Yours to Count On: A Biography of Nashville Banker Extraordinaire Sam M. Fleming by Ridley Wills, II was published by Vanderbilt University Press in 2007.
Sam Fleming was a great patron of the Vanderbilt Library. In addition to donating
a number of important Bibles from the late 16th and early 17th centuries ( the
Geneva version of the so-called "Breeches" Bible, reference to Genesis
3:7), his will made a bequest to Special Collections which established the Sam
Fleming Southern Civilization Collection, a growing collection of books on the
history, culture, literature, and biography of the South since 1865.
Scope and Contents
These papers spanning five Hollinger boxes ( 2.1 linear feet) are made up primarily of materials relating to Sam Fleming and Vanderbilt and include items from his time as an undergraduate (1924-1928), his tenure on the Board of Trust (1952-1981), the Athletic program and building of the new stadium, speeches and remarks by Fleming and others, and the Merger of Vanderbilt with Peabody College in 1979, when Fleming was chairman of the Board of Trust.
This collection also includes nine items, historic documents or concerning
historic documents, given by Stanley Horn to Sam Fleming, dating from 1617 to
There are also typescripts of Supper at the Maxwell House with author's notes by Alfred Leland Crabb as well as an interview with Crabb in Nashville! magazine.
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