Ronald A. Fleming, who devoted his life to the Amagansett Presbyterian Church after retiring from careers as a teacher and an antiques dealer, died at his Meeting House Lane home in the hamlet on July 13. He had been diagnosed with melanoma earlier this year and had spent his last days surrounded by his friends and beautiful gardens, said Ralph Prizio, his caregiver and friend of almost 40 years. He was 72.
Mr. Fleming taught elementary school in Old Bridge, N.J., and throughout the state, before leaving the profession in 1970, when he and his partner bought the Amagansett house. In 1977, he began dividing his time between Amagansett and Boston, where he sold antiques until 2002.
He was born in Denver to Albert Fleming and the former Dollie Lee Willison on April 21, 1941. His early years were lived in various places on the West Coast. As a young man in New Jersey, he served in the National Guard for six months, during which he was named a “Soldier of the Month” among 1,000 recruits.
An openly gay man, Mr. Fleming was drawn to the Amagansett Presbyterian Church after meeting its then pastor, the Rev. Robert Stuart, at an event sponsored by the East End Gay Organization in 1990. Mr. Stuart said Mr. Fleming “welcomed everyone into his life. He could not understand a gay man or woman not being out. . . . He could overlook some of the political realities.”
Becoming a member of the church, Mr. Fleming served it over the years as an elder, was instrumental in seeing its interior and exterior repainted in Victorian colors, oversaw its plant table at the annual fair, and traveled to take part in the church’s partnership with a church in Guines, Cuba, among other activities. He also volunteered at the Springs Presbyterian Church food pantry and for the Long Island Association for AIDS care.
Mr. Stuart said that for many years Mr. Fleming hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for 12 or more. In a Facebook tribute, a friend described the house as an “old, creaky, dusty, red-velvet wall-papered, Tiffany-lamp crammed, cat-filled home . . . emanating a generous flow of comfort and hospitality.”
Mr. Fleming was cremated and a memorial service will be held at the Amagansett church at a later date. In addition to Mr. Prizio and his many other friends, Mr. Fleming is survived by four brothers, Scott Fleming and Jim Willison of Arizona and John Fleming and Reg Willison of Nevada.