A legacy of caring: Remembering Bernard Fleming
Editor of the Reformer:
The greater Brattleboro area has lost one of its finest funeral directors with the recent passing of Bernard J. Fleming, fondly known by most area families as "Bernie."
A true hometown caregiver, he was born upstairs over the funeral home on Terrace Street during the great hurricane of 1938. He was introduced into the mortuary profession at a young age often assisting his father with many of the important duties of operating a small family funeral firm from going on death calls with his father, setting up chairs for services or sitting at the business telephone when his parents were out of the home, (years prior to pager service and cell phones).
The Flemings were known as the Catholic funeral directors in the community, but following the death of his father, Bernie started to serve many other faiths in Brattleboro expanding his business and increasing the firm’s annual call volume.
In 1965 with his father, Bernie established the Fleming Ambulance Service becoming one of Brattleboro’s primary emergency services provider working in conjunction with Rescue, Inc. as well as providing convalescent transfer services. He was one of the first in the business to break away from the limousine style ambulances (Cadillac) by becoming the first in the community to operate a larger van chassis ambulance.
He was dedicated to
Bernie was an excellent embalmer always taking his time with his professional work. In our trade the telltale sign of an excellent technician is what condition they leave the prep facility in, once finished. At our funeral home he would leave the room neat as a pin and spotless.
What really made Bernie Fleming the funeral professional he became was his true empathy, sympathy and compassion shown to every family that he was called to served. He was quiet, efficient and displayed genuine concern in assisting families during their darkest hours. He had the uncanny ability to remember names of families served from years ago, and small details about each funeral service conducted. Bernie was a wealth of knowledge and local history.
In September of 2001 Bernie joined our staff at Atamaniuk Funeral Home back at his former home on Terrace Street. It was not only a privilege, but an honor working side by side with him. Together we were truly Brattleboro’s hometown funeral directors.
Thank you, Bernie, for your devoted service, you will be missed not only by myself and our entire staff, but also by so many in the community.
Michael D. Atamaniuk,
Atamaniuk Funeral Home Inc.,
Brattleboro, Sept. 5
Pro-nuclear letter blind to facts
Editor of the Reformer:
Richard January’s letter (Reformer, Aug. 8) regarding the benefits of Vermont Yankee to our community and state demands a reply. Is there no end to the operating life of this 40 year old reactor? Mr. January advocates maintaining an extraordinary reliance on this dated and leaking machine for one third of Vermont’s power needs.
The Vermont legislature’s decision to end our reliance on VY was based upon wanting to build and maintain a diverse, locally controlled and sustainable energy future. To return to the overwhelming reliance on one aging facility is to move backwards and against the wishes of our duly elected representatives. Entergy lawyers are currently working full time to force this backward thinking on the state of Vermont.
Mr. January laments the Vermont Electric Cooperative’s call to conserve electricity this summer. Is he blaming this on the fact that VY no longer sells power to Vermont utilities? Again, he wants to continue the thoughtless waste of energy that is the root cause of our climate problems, our oil dependency and our intractable nuclear waste dilemma. Nuclear advocates from the very beginning have promised energy "too cheap to meter." Mr. January is pushing a related falsehood: "energy too plentiful to conserve."
It is ingenious how nuclear advocates have seized upon global warming as the ultimate rationale for their polluting and unsustainable industry. If we are truly concerned about carbon in the atmosphere then petroleum use for transportation and heating are of the most concern. Electrical power accounts for less about 17 percent of Vermont’s energy consumption. Even with ENVY providing one third of this power, nuclear energy represents 5.6 percent of our total energy use. Touting nuclear as the answer to global warming is a deceptive and self-serving tactic.
Certainly Entergy Vermont Yankee provides a concentrated benefit to its employees, owners, managers and stockholders. The long-term economic and environmental costs, however, will be carried by future generations. As usual, Mr. January ignores long-term toxic waste management, the relationship between the nuclear power industry and the military, the deterioration of nuclear plants across the country, the lack of private investment in the nuclear industry and the need for friendly regulators and massive government subsidies to keep this polluting industry hobbling along.
Nuclear power has the ability to cause havoc. Mikhail Gorbachov credited Chernobyl with the playing a huge role in the downfall of the Soviet Union. Japan is now struggling over how to proceed with an economy that grew too dependent on nuclear power. The Japanese parliament just released its report on the causes and ramifications of the Fukushima disaster. This report concludes that the accident was of man-made origin: failure to heed warnings, shortsightedness and collusion between industry and government.
Although we may not see a tsunami in Vermont, the signs are all too clear that failure to heed warnings, shortsightedness and collusion are present in our midst.
Brattleboro, Sept. 9