Civil Service Loses a 'Notable Advocate'

November 1996

EXECUTIVE MEMO

Civil Service Loses a 'Notable Advocate'

Arthur S. Flemming, for many in government the embodiment of public service, died Sept. 7. He was 91.

Flemming entered government in 1939 when he was named to the Civil Service Commission by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Flemming fought for a merit system and helped mobilize civilian employees during World War II. President Eisenhower named him director of the Office of Defense Mobilization in 1953. He served on the President's Advisory Commission on Government Organization from 1947 to 1961, including three years as chair, during which he also served as Eisenhower's secretary for Health, Education and Welfare. He was a member of the Peace Corps advisory commission during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

Flemming's passions included civil rights, health, assisting the elderly and preserving Social Security. He chaired the 1971 White House Conference on Aging, was Commissioner on Aging until 1978, worked with the Save Our Security Coalition, Families U.S.A. and the Citizens Commission on Civil Rights and helped with the Social Security Administration's modernization project. He was an adviser to First Lady Hillary Clinton on health reform. She recalled, at a Sept. 14 memorial for Flemming, his desire to help people. In 1994, President Clinton awarded Flemming the Medal of Freedom.

A Washington Post editorial called Flemming a notable advocate. "He did not rail against those he was trying to persuade, but impressed even those with whom he disagreed by his modesty and gracious demeanor." President Clinton said Flemming "transcended party, generation and race in search of consensus."

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