FARMINGTON – Two large flags framed the entrance of San Juan College while first-responder and fire engines lined the curb in front of the Henderson Fine Arts Center on Thursday for the memorial service of a firefighter and paramedic who has long served the area.
In a crowded auditorium, family and friends honored Julian Fleming, who served Bloomfield and Ignacio as a first-responder for over three decades.
“Julian was a loving husband, son, father, grandfather, uncle, brother and friend. He had an infectious laugh and fine sense of humor. He is and always will be missed,” his obituary said.
Fleming, 64, was found dead in his car at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 3 in front of Kare Drug in Bloomfield, said Suzanne Moore, spokeswoman for the Bloomfield Police Department, which was first on scene. It was later determined he died from a heart attack, Moore said. Fleming had retired last year as the assistant fire chief for Bloomfield and his death took the community by surprise, she said.
“People knew him for so long, it’s been tough,” she said.
Born in 1955 in England, Fleming moved to the U.S. in 1980 and ultimately became a naturalized citizen in 1999, according to his obituary. Fleming joined the Bloomfield Fire Department in 1986, the department said.
“A stellar firefighter and paramedic who unselfishly served thousands of persons and trained hundreds of emergency service workers,” the department said in a Facebook post on Monday.
Fleming also worked with the Los Pinos Fire Protection District in Ignacio as a paramedic. Josh Lorenzen, a Los Pinos firefighter and paramedic, served with Fleming since 2007. He said when they first started working together, he was recently out of paramedic school and Fleming “served as a mentor to bring me along and give me advice.”
It’s a role Fleming seemed to take on throughout the community, often helping to teach emergency medical service and first-responder students throughout San Juan County.
“He was always willing to help people out,” Lorenzen said. “He was one of those individuals who really did make people better around him.”
Throughout the memorial service, family and friends who have worked alongside Fleming spoke of his dedication to service, his willingness to help others and his sense of humor. Instead of flowers, the family is asking for contributions to the Julian Fleming Scholarship Fund for San Juan College’s EMT/paramedic program.
At the end of the service, the auditorium echoed with the final dispatch call for Julian Fleming as it went out across the radios, unanswered.