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Dr. Valeria Powe Fleming, age 87 of Fayetteville, NC departed this life on Tuesday, January 16, 2024.
Funeral Services were held on Thursday, January 25th at 12:00 PM at College Heights Presbyterian Church. Burial: Cumberland Memorial Gardens
There was a viewing on Wednesday, January 24th from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM at the funeral home.
On the morning of Tuesday, January 16, 2024, God peacefully summoned home His servant VALERIA POWE FLEMING. Born on September 17, 1936, in Cleveland, North Carolina, Valeria was the second born of Reverend and Mrs. Thomas M. Powe. As the second of three beautiful daughters, she was always curious and could often be seen running in their yard behind her father with two long ponytails flowing in the wind. She often described herself as somewhat of a “tomboy” enjoying sports and gardening with her father.
Valeria was the epitome of style and class and was always well dressed and groomed. Even on her last days on short visits out, she would not leave until she had simply perfect hair and her make-up intact.
Valeria found her calling with the Lord at an early age and as the daughter of a minister and organist, was regularly active in church all her life even attending Bible study class at the retirement community where she was a recent resident. She joined College Heights Presbyterian Church in 1961 and was a lifelong member.
Valeria was a proud graduate of The Allen Boarding school in Asheville, NC where she excelled as a class officer, athlete, and club president. Again, her curiosity and commitment to education led her to be named Class Valedictorian.
After graduation and earning a scholarship, Valeria attended North Carolina Central University with a desire to become a physician by majoring in Chemistry. A change in heart of lifelong learning, and sparked by a favorite professor, she decided she wanted to help future students and participate in life changing research in academia. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and continued her studies at NCCU to earn a master’s degree in Biology.
There are many hilarious family tales about how she met the love of her life, and over the years they would say it was love at first sight when his brother introduced them on a blind date with her sister. Eventually two brothers married two sisters, which formed a dynamic family bond and closeness difficult to describe. Valeria and James married in the Summer of 1958.
In 1960, she began her over 55 years of employment at Fayetteville State University. There have been only 12 chancellors in the university’s nearly 160-year history, and she served with seven of them. In the mid-1970s, because of recognition of her work, she was selected as one of two recipients with a grant to pursue a doctoral degree in her field of choice. She enrolled in the Doctoral program in Zoology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and after few years of arduous work emerged with her Ph.D. and as the first African American to receive a Doctoral degree in Biology/Zoology in UNC history.
When she returned to FSU as a full Professor, she continued to be a trail blazer. She focused her time on students and research, becoming nationally renowned for her research in freshwater fish being published and leader in grant writing for the University.
During her over 55-year tenure at Fayetteville State University, Dr. Fleming worked her way up from an instructor to full professor. In between she was charged with Women’s issues as an Assistant Dean of Students, Chairwoman of the Division of Arts and Sciences, Department Chair of Physical and Life Sciences, Assistant to Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Head of General College, and Provost and Vice Chancellor.
She once stated, “Serving as an administrator and faculty member were important roles. I am especially passionate about the welfare of this institution and the experiences of the students who matriculate here. Ultimately, everything an administrator does and everything a professor does should have the paramount goal of advancing the exposure and preparation of our students for their post baccalaureate years.”
Her record of contributing to the advancement of students is well documented. It is well known that thousands have gone on to enjoy success as medical doctors, Physician Assistants, nurses, dentists, teachers, pharmacists, researchers, and in other science related fields.
Her other first continue to remain, as the first female Provost and Vice Chancellor in the University of North Carolina College system, starting the Biotech program at Fayetteville State University, the first African American Ph.D. graduate in her discipline from the University of North Carolina, the longest serving professor at single University North Carolina constituent University with over 55 years of educating students. In April 2010 she was awarded the highest award in our state, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine. Since 1963, North Carolina governors have reserved their highest honor for persons who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through their exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments. Persons named to The Order become North Carolina “Ambassadors.”
She remained active, until her health and mobility declined, in her community while spending time with her granddaughters, Sienna, Ashton, and Hunter, whom she adored, and her two sons, Michael and Kenneth, whom many thought she assumed could do no wrong. She was also remarkably close to her two daughters-in-law, LaRaunce and Vanita who shared in her care in her last years. Until her declining health continued, her active regular involvement for her community with College Heights Presbyterian Church, her beloved sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., The Links, Inc., The local Red Cross Board, and The American Cancer Society Board was cut back, but her love and heartfelt commitment did not waiver. In 2017 she moved to Winston Salem, NC to be cared for by her sons Kenneth and Michael.
Dr. Valeria P. Fleming is survived by her son: Kenneth (Vanita) Kernersville, NC; granddaughters: Sienna Fleming Coppedge (Grant), Huntsville, Ala., Ashton Fleming Oglesby (Joel), Winston-Salem, NC, Hunter Fleming, Charlotte, NC; daughter-in-law: LaRaunce A. Fleming, Huntsville, Ala.; brother: Thomas Powe (Janet), Stone Mountain, GA; sister: Wanda Burns, Charlotte, NC; and a host of nieces, nephews, and great grandnieces.
Special thanks to The Southwood Retirement Community and Homestead Hills Retirement Community in Winston Salem, NC for their exceptional care of our mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Reverend and Mrs. Thomas M. Powe, her beloved husband, James L. Fleming Jr, her loving son, Michael B. Fleming and her best friend and sister Edith P. Fleming (Bruce).
Valeria fought the good fight, and she is at peace now with her Heavenly Father.
Dr. Valeria P Fleming certainly enjoyed flowers, but if chosen in lieu of flowers the family asked that you give to the. Dr Valeria P Fleming STEM Endowed scholarship established in her honor to support her mission of helping students.
You can make your donation by visiting: https://www.uncfsu.edu/give-to-fsu
Select Endowment as your Area of Support
Select Valeria Fleming Endowed Scholarship
If you would like send a check, please make checks payable to Fayetteville State University and indicate Valeria Fleming Endowed Scholarship in the memo line.
Fayetteville State University
1200 Murchison Rd
Fayetteville, NC 28301