Fleming helps pitch Tennessee as ideal place for retirees

Jeff Fleming


Jeff Fleming, affectionately known as Mr. Kingsport, has ended a 35-year career with the city, the last five as city manager. But we have no doubt he’ll still be making waves for years to come because Fleming has always had a deep love for the city of his birth.

We reported on his last day with the city, but found a comment he made on his Facebook page that speaks from the heart: “This job faces relentless criticism and opinions — solicited or not — at church, the grocery store, the ballgame, etc. But the way I look at it is people don’t have an opinion about something they don’t care about. And for an inanimate place to evoke emotion means it is worthy of someone’s feelings. That’s also what makes this job the most rewarding — the thank-you’s from people you know and don’t know. Not many jobs have that kind of priceless fulfillment.”

Two hundred and thirty-two people at last count had given Fleming a thumbs up on that comment, and dozens more responded to it. Here are some of them (we’ve used their first names only):

• Sandy: “It’s so obvious that you have a servant heart Jeff. I believe the Lord still has great things ahead.”

• Kathy: “I don’t know you but I have only heard nice comments about you personally and the great job you have done for Kingsport. I appreciate you keeping me informed via Facebook on things happening and information that is beneficial. So, thank you.”

• Jan: “You’ve done an amazing job! Public service is not an easy job. There’s not always one right answer or even one good answer sometimes and people are very demanding at times. There’s no way to please everyone but the heart of a good public servant wants to and you are a fine example.”

• Steve: “Through your career you’ve been an amazing servant to the people of Kingsport and beyond. And as you well know, serving others is one of the most demanding, yet also most rewarding vocations one could ever engage in. I know you will continue to offer your selfless service wherever and whenever you’re called on.”

• Karen: “You have done an excellent job of serving our city well! Thank you for your service! Retirement from a job you love is an emotional experience especially when you pour your entire being into completing it. It is who you are! May God use you to do even greater things during the next chapter of your life!”

• Wayne: “You were amazing.”

• Calvin: “Our meetings were always great discussions from a person who actually listened to what we had to say.”

• Dee: “Thanks for your many years of service. You always had the courage to talk to the people of this city and listen to their views.”

• Anna: “I have always enjoyed your inspiring messages. Please continue. We need them.”

• Barbara: “Your sincerity of heart and determination to do your best helped you to be broadminded and accepting of any hurtful comments from negative people. I have seen you in action and know you by your good works. Thank you!”

• Mike: “Just wondering. Did you ever look at a Kingsport citizen and tell them you didn’t like suggestions and you probably wouldn’t do anything if it wasn’t your idea? I bet you didn’t and I want to thank you for your service and performing your job with a servant’s heart.”

Fleming answered Mike: “Nope. I sure didn’t”

We’d be remiss if we didn’t chime in: “Best to you, Jeff, from the Times News staff. We appreciate your guidance, wisdom, openness, honesty, transparency and availability. We’ll miss you, sir.”