Margaret Fleming grew up in the 1920s, one of six sisters living on a farm near Brush Creek Road in what was then rural Santa Rosa.

Fleming, a retired medical technologist for Memorial Hospital, died Oct. 2 in a Santa Rosa care home. She was 91.

The daughter of Irish immigrants, Fleming worked 26 years at Memorial Hospital before retiring about 1984. As a medical technologist, she drew and tested patients' blood, at times going into the hospital late at night when she was on call.

"She knew all the doctors in town," said her daughter, Jennifer Fleming-Velez of Escondido.

Born in Wibaux, Mont. near the state's border with North Dakota, Fleming came as a baby to Cloverdale. When she was a girl, her family moved to Brush Creek Road just east of Santa Rosa. The farm off the Sonoma Highway was a place where the family had horses and raised their own food.

Fleming and her sisters "really had fond memories of growing up like that," her daughter said.

After high school, Fleming attended Santa Rosa Junior College, La Sierra University in Riverside and Sonoma State University.

In 1961 she wed Wilbur Fleming. The couple remained married until his death in 1996.

Fleming enjoyed tole painting stools, shelves and other wood items that her husband crafted. The couple also canned their own apple sauce and apricots. She was a longtime member at the Santa Rosa Seventh-day Adventist Church. There she helped host baby and wedding showers.

Fleming loved all things Irish. Thirteen years ago she traveled with her daughter to Ireland. "She got to meet all kinds of relatives," Fleming-Velez said.

Along with her daughter, survivors include a stepson, Patrick Fleming of Santa Rosa; a sister, Annabelle Studt of Bend, Ore.; and two grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 840 Sonoma Ave. Arrangements are under the direction of Daniels Chapel of the Roses.

— Robert Digitale

Crisis care: The new mental institutions

Sonoma County has a chronic shortage of psychiatric hospital beds. As as a result, a growing number of mentally ill residents are ending up in local emergency rooms and in the jail system. A four-part series, run on four consecutive Sundays, examines the causes and ramifications of the current state of the county’s mental health system, and the people who are impacted the most.

Aug. 6 — Hospitals: The closure of two psychiatric hospitals in Sonoma County has left a gaping hole.

Today — Jail: The Sonoma County Jail has become the largest psychiatric treatment facility in the county.

Aug. 20 — Solutions: Sonoma County explores ways to improve services to people suffering from severe mental illness.

Aug. 27 — Your response: Readers share their stories about Sonoma County's mental health system.

Ongoing coverage:

Share your story

We want to hear about your experience with local psychiatric emergency services. What do you do when you or a loved one faces a mental health crisis? Have you or a loved one sat in a hospital bed waiting to be transferred to an out-of-county psychiatric hospital or other mental health facility? Have you or a loved one received psychiatric services in the Sonoma County Jail’s mental health unit? Please send a brief account of your experience to Martin Espinoza at