Who was Santa Rosa High benefactor James Fleck?

  • James Fleck, from 1946 Santa Rosa High yearbook.

It was long ago that scholarship benefactor James Fleck last set foot in Santa Rosa or walked the halls of the high school he honored with his gift of millions.

But schoolmate Martha Comstock Keegan remembers him.

"I knew Jim in high school," said Keegan, who graduated from Santa Rosa High School in 1947, a year after Fleck. "He was a really good-looking guy."

Bob Bailey, Class of 1945, recalls Fleck as a nice, quiet guy and a heck of a football player.

Following high school, Fleck studied and played also at Santa Rosa Junior College and for a single year he attended the University of San Francisco. He completed college at San Jose State University and then enlisted in the Air Force and distinguished himself at track-and-field meets as a discus thrower.

After his discharge, he joined the California Highway Patrol. Norm Chavez, a 1945 Santa Rosa High grad who played football with Fleck, also became a CHP officer.

He was surprised one day in the mid-Sixties to step into a staff room at the CHP office in San Jose and see Fleck there, in uniform.

"I never saw him again after that," Chavez said. "He was sort of a loner, I guess."

Though Fleck lived most of his life in San Jose, he grew up in Santa Rosa and some members of his extended family live still in Sonoma County.

Niece Joan Fleck of Santa Rosa and nephew Jim Fleck of Sebastopol are the children of his late older brother, Erwin Fleck.

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