Member Biography

Robert D Fleming 

Sessions Office Position District Party
1951-1952       40 Republican
1953-1954       40 Republican
1955-1956       40 Republican
1957-1958       40 Republican
1959       40 Republican
1960       40 Republican
1961       40 Republican
1962       40 Republican
1963       40 Republican
1964       40 Republican
1965       40 Republican
1966       40 Republican
1967       40 Republican
1968       40 Republican
1969       40 Republican
1970       40 Republican
1971       40 Republican
1972       40 Republican
1973       40 Republican
1974       40 Republican

COUNTIES: Allegheny  


1903 - 1994

Representing the 40th District, the Honorable Robert D. Fleming was born March 8, 1903, the son of Robert H. and Daisy Doty Fleming. He attended public schools and received a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh, 1931. Robert pursued a 50-year career in the insurance and real estate businesses, marrying Jean D. Varner of Johnstown in 1942. He was a member of the state House of Representatives, 1939-1950, and served six terms thereafter in the state Senate, through 1974. During his Senate career, Fleming served as Republican caucus chair (1959-62) and head of the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee. Regarding the latter, Fleming served as the catalyst for Governor Scranton’s accelerated interstate highway completion program. The senator served as the 1959 secretary of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Revision Commission, and in 1967-68, was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. He supported passage of Project 70, the community college system, the codification of eminent domain laws, the stabilization of the unemployment compensation law, the institutional care and treatment of geriatric patients held in state mental institutions, and additional benefits for blind veterans. He supported the “Mistaken Appeals Bill,” re-codification of the 1860 Penal Code, equal employment opportunities for women, a restricted or limited (rather than open) 1967 Constitutional Convention, the Retail Sales Installment Act, and the establishment of the Department of Community Affairs. He advocated the University of Pittsburgh’s status as a state-related institution, the Mental Health Bill of 1966, the same session’s Highway Scenic Improvement and Beautification bill, the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act, and the Public Defenders Act. As pro tem, Fleming’s Senate enacted the 1967 Constitutional Convention’s eight proposed amendments: amendments forbidding discrimination and the denial of civil rights, altering the state legislature from an annual body into a continuing two-year assembly, simplified procedures in the General Assembly, and allowed the Governor’s succession by an additional term. Other changes included the reduction of the one-year election residency requirement to 90 days, permitted one-session passage of emergency amendments to the state constitution, deleted antiquated railroad and canal laws, and provided a $500 million conservation and reclamation bond-issue. He led passage of a bill establishing the Department of Environmental Resources; the Public Employees Relations Act, allowing teachers and other public employees to engage in collective bargaining; and closed loopholes associated with the 1938 Clean Streams Act, supporting “An Act to preserve and improve the purity of the waters of the Commonwealth (HB 1353).” Senator Fleming was most noted for his “aggressive floor style,” producing excessive debate adrenalin during disputes with Governor George Leader, U.S. Representative and state Senator John Dent, and Allegheny County row officer James Knox. He receives note for laws creating the community college system, the abolishment of the Milk Price Control Commission, and numerous measures concerned with cleaning up the state’s streams and the reclamation of strip mines. The senator’s penchant for hard work did not end in Harrisburg. At home, he served as a member of the Aspinwall Planning Commission, a 1958 appointee to the Allegheny County Port Authority, and a leader for renovation efforts during the Pittsburgh “skyline” campaign. A pioneer in urban transportation technology, Fleming championed the ill-fated Pittsburgh Skybus project. Spanning the Allegheny between Lawrenceville and Sharpsburg, the city honored the elder statesman by dedicating the “Fleming” Bridge. Fleming served as a delegate to the 1960 Republican Convention and was a member of Kiwanis, Masons, B.P.O.E., and the Etna Sportsmen’s Club.  His “political career ended in 1974” as a new alignment of Democratic registrants capsized a once impenetrable Republican 40th district. Stepping down from a 35-year legislative career, Senator Fleming pursued business interests for two decades, passing away on August 24, 1994.  Legendary Senator Clarence Bell called Fleming “the Father of the Senate.”