The Reverend Gilbert E. “Gil” Fleer, 91, of Rogers, Arkansas passed away, Wednesday, February 19, 2020 in Bentonville. He was born December 20, 1928 in Washington, Missouri to Elmer and Goldia (Benny) Fleer.
Gil graduated from Central High School in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1946, he enrolled at Central Methodist College, now Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri. His education was interrupted by the Korean conflict. He served in the United States Army from 1951 until 1953.
After basic training at Camp Roberts, California, he was assigned to the Prisoner of War (POW) Command on the Island of Cheju, Korea. During seventeen months on the island, he worked in a variety of POW settings, sentry patrol, water purification and a short period as voluntary military chaplain. He often recalled “those three months of ministry may have been three of the most significant months of my life.”
His transition from the army to resuming his education was fast and simple. He returned home, ate the noon meal with his mom and dad and within three hours was back at college picking up the same courses and instructors that he had left behind two years prior. The smooth transition was a blessing. It added meaning to life-purpose and deepended his commitment to a life of service and dedication.
Gil was passionate about ministry and education throughout his entire life. He earned a double major in Sociology and English-Speech and graduated with a BA in 1955. His last two years of college proved to be pivotal years. In his senior year he was a member of OMICRON, Delta Kappa-a national leadership fraternity, was Vice President of the student body and was elected to “Who’s Who” among students in Colleges and Universities in 1955.
After graduation, Gil and Ruth were married at Linn Memorial Methodist Church, the campus church. They first met, in January 1954, while standing in line to pay college tuition. Gil remembered vividly, “I had traveled several thousand miles to return home and Ruth had traveled the same while leaving home; I wondered how different our feelings might be.” Through the years, he and Ruth talked about that a lot. Gil often said he had been called the man with a thousand stories, but he found her stories were far more exciting and challenging. He and Ruth often returned to those conversations with much pleasure.
Gil was grateful for every challenge and opportunity to grow, teach or lead others. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Divinity in 1958, from Drew University Theological School in Madison, New Jersey, and a Doctorate in Education in 1975, from Texas A & M in Commerce, Texas. A major accomplishment during his doctoral program was the completion of his thesis on aging: “A Delphi Investigation Regarding Training Needs with the Aged Based on Physical and Psychological Needs of Older Americans.” A Delphi panel of gerontologists and geriatricians identified 22 psychological and sociological needs and 23 training needs.
Another very meaningful opportunity was provided during these doctoral years. Gil became a member of the American Association of Marital and Family Therapy. He was licensed as a counselor in Texas and felt it complemented his role as a pastor, professor and counselor.
From 1967 to 1971, Gil was a minister to adults at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. While there, he participated in national programs of basic skills training, communication skills, organizational development and problem solving.
In 1975, Gil joined the faculty and staff of Western Texas College in Snyder, Texas. For the next nineteen years, he served as academic counselor and professor in the social science department. He retired in 1994.
Gil belonged to numerous professional associations. He was a member of the American Associating of Counseling and Development; Texas Association of Counseling and Development and the Texas Junior College Teachers Association. He served as the Chaplain during Missouri’s 70th General Assembly Special Session. Gil said it was a “hands on” experience with political life at a state level and greatly valued that opportunity.
His hobbies and special interests were hunting, fishing, baking, dabbling in art, creative writing, sports, teaching basic communication skills and observing people.
Following retirement, he and wife, Ruth moved to Northwest Arkansas where they became active, faithful members of First United Methodist Church in Bentonville, Arkansas.
One day, a very good friend asked Gil “How do you meaningfully put all of your life events together?” His reply, after some moments of thought was, “I guess it’s like a verse in a favorite hymn, “to serve the present age, my calling to fulfill.. O may it all my powers engage to do my Master’s will!”
Gill was preceded in death by his parents; one son, Jeffrey Fleer; brothers, Stanley and James Fleer and one sister, Alice Fleer Mueller.
He is survived by his wife, Ruth Hombs Fleer of 64 years; son, Philip Fleer of Frederick, MD; daughter, Susan Fleer Gerhard and husband, Jim of Euless, Texas; brother, Clarence Fleer of Columbia, MO and many colleagues, students and dear friends.
Memorial Services will be at 10:00am, Saturday, February 29, 2020 at First United Methodist Church in Bentonville with the Reverend Dr. Kurt Boggan and the Reverend Eric Meyer officiating. Burial will be at a later date in Perche Cemetery north of Columbia, Missouri.
Memorials may be made in memory of Gil Fleer to The 2nd Avenue Street Pantry, 201 NW 2nd St, Bentonville, AR 72712.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Stockdale-Moody Funeral Services in Rogers. Memories may be shared at Stockdale-Moodyfs.com.
Peace and Grace to you.
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