The Final Class

Bill Fleischman.JPG

Bill Fleischman taught his final class at the University of Delaware last night.

This makes me incredibly sad.

All journalists discover role models along the way; people who help make them who they are. Although there have been many writers who have influenced my career, either with strong words (Catherine Mayhew of The Tennessean) or strong leadership (Neal Scarbrough, also of The Tennessean, and Bill Colson of SI) or strong chops (too many to count), I’ve really only had two true, longterm mentors; people who began as teachers and, along the way, morphed into friends/peers.

One was Joe Lombardi, my first-ever editor of any kind at the Patent Trader in Cross River, N.Y.

The second was Bill Fleischman.

Not that I call him Bill Fleischman. Or Bill. Or Fleischman. I called him “Professor Flesichman” on Day One, and I’ll call him “Professor Flesichman” as long as we’re both around. It’s a matter of respect, but … much more than that. Professor Fleischman was the longtime Flyers writer for the Philadelphia Daily News, which means—beginning with that first class my sophomore year at UD—I knew he was someone who’d been where I wanted to go. He brought authenticity to school; possessed a level of knowledge and understanding I was desperate to attain. While some of the other teachers had been journalists long ago, often at some podunk paper in Podunkville, Professor Flesichman was big time.

And yet, he never, ever, ever, ever acted as such. He was a humble, decent, big-hearted man who wanted the students to see what he did. He insisted that making it in journalism was possible, but that it took hard work and effort. He brought in some amazing guest speakers, and introduced me to one of my all-time favorite books, Gene Wojciechowski’s Pond Scum and Vultures (If you’re a sports writer or an aspiring sports writer, trust me on this one. Hell, it’s one cent on Amazon). Most important, he stood by me when I behaved as a complete-and-total punkass college know-it-all. That couldn’t have been easy.

Great writer.

Better man.

Sad day.

5 thoughts on “The Final Class”

  1. Couldn’t agree more with Jeff’s words. Professor Fleischman is my mentor as well, and you couldn’t ask for a more decent, kind man to emulate.

  2. I had Professor Fleischman at UD (’92 grad) and was raised in Philly so being taught by Prof Fleischman was truly an honor for me but he saw it the other way around.He always made me feel it was his privilege to teach us. Best of luck to Bill in his retirement from teaching – I look forward to reading his columns online for the Flyers and phillynews.

  3. Agreed. I really enjoyed him as a professor as well. What an honor it was when he asked me to come back and speak to the class a couple of years later. Excellent teacher and mentor. Through your considerable following, Jeff, I’m really glad that you’ve brought this to the attention of so many people. Same goes for your article on Joyce Perry and your various other articles that mention the University of Delaware.

    Through your writings, you have brought the University a good deal of publicity. Good work, and let’s go Blue Hens!

  4. I have only known Professor Fleischman for 50 years as my brother-in-law. Jeff is an astute observer of human qualities as I echo his sentiments of “Bill” being a humble man of great writing skills. UD has lost a true professor if only in the classroom. To his pupils…take was he has given you and run with it!

  5. I have only known Professor Fleischman for 50 years as my brother-in-law. Jeff is an astute observer of human qualities as I echo his sentiments of “Bill” being a humble man of great writing skills. UD has lost a true professor if only in the classroom. To his pupils…take what he has given you and run with it! Acutely proof read what you write before submitting for publication.

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