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Family, friends remember Charles 'Chuck' Fleming

BISMARCK -- Colleagues who knew Charles "Chuck" Fleming say he was full of energy in the political sphere and a compassionate individual who worked hard for others.

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BISMARCK -- Colleagues who knew Charles “Chuck” Fleming say he was full of energy in the political sphere and a compassionate individual who worked hard for others.

With a resume of Democratic-NPL Party lawmaker, campaign manager and chief of staff for former Gov. George A. Sinner, farmer and businessman, he was an active North Dakotan.

Fleming died Wednesday in Bismarck. He was 70.

“Public service was his calling, and he was never shy to take on the big ideas. He was true to his beliefs, loved a healthy debate and was always looking forward to the next challenge. Throughout his work, he had the best interest of North Dakota at heart,” Arliss Fleming, his wife, said in emailed comments to the Tribune. “He believed that the people of North Dakota were what made it so great. As a family, we will miss his contagious and fun loving spirit, positive outlook and zest for life.”

Fleming served in the North Dakota Legislature from 1970-80, and was caucus chair for the House Democrats in the 1977 and 1979 sessions.

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After working as campaign manager for Sinner’s 1984 gubernatorial campaign, he became Sinner’s chief of staff through 1992.

“Charles was a very energetic person who was always thinking ahead,” said Lloyd Omdahl, a political scientist, columnist and former lieutenant governor. “He was a really good administrator.”

Bruce Hagen, who was a North Dakota Public Service Commissioner from 1961 to 2000, said coordination within the governor’s office was strong under Fleming's guidance in the Sinner administration.

“He was really committed to having a good solid Dem-NPL government that worked for the people of North Dakota,” Hagen said.

Fleming’s health became a concern during the first day of the party’s state convention in Bismarck this past spring. Hagen said Fleming wasn’t feeling well and went to the hospital, and was eventually diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

North Dakota Dem-NPL Party chairwoman Kylie Oversen praised Fleming’s decades of work.

“Chuck was an institution within the Democratic-NPL,” she said. “He cared deeply for the party and for the people of the state. He was actively involved through his final days. His knowledge, passion and his presence will be missed.”

Omdahl said Fleming was a great organizer, both within and outside the political realm.

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“He would unabashedly get into causes and see them through to completion,” Omdahl said.

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