The 10-year-old son of ACU’s sports information director died this weekend after a two-year-long fight with cancer.
Rex Fleming passed away at about 11:30 p.m. Sunday night in home hospice care.
“He died peacefully at home, surrounded by his parents and grandparents, just the way he would have wanted it,” said his father, Lance.
Rana Travieso, Rex’s fourth-grade teacher at Taylor Elementary School, remembers Rex lighting up the classroom, even when he wasn’t feeling strong.
“He was an amazing example of faith, strength, bravery and determination,” Travieso said. “He was kind to everyone and always had an upbeat positive attitude, even when he didn’t feel well. He had a very contagious smile that would brighten everyone’s day and he loved to tell jokes and make people laugh.”
An MRI in July showed that Rex’s tumor had grown worse and was inoperable. Doctors estimated he had four-six months to live.
Four and a half months later, Rex’s parents withdrew him from school in early November as a precautionary measure.
Rex was his father’s constant companion at ACU athletics game. He led the football team out of the locker room before their – and his – final home game of the season a few weeks ago and represented the team as an honorary team captain at the pre-game coin toss.
“He loved playing football during recess,” Travieso said. “We would just give him a ball and let him go.”
Taylor Elementary teachers read a statement in each class on Monday after they learned of Rex’s death, and a letter was sent home with each student. Travieso said her students needed time to remember their best friend.
“We spent the day sharing memories of Rex and trying to cope with the loss of such an incredible person,” she said. “We made a memory chain to express our feelings and memories.”
Jared Mosley, director of athletics, has worked closely with Lance before and during his son’s long battle with the disease. Mosley said he admires Rex, Lance and his wife, Jill, for the way they handled Rex’s cancer.
“Lance, Jill and Rex went into their fight with a determination to give it their best shot with no stopping to slow down or whine and complain or feel sorry for themselves,” Mosley said. “I’ve been struck by how easy it would be to get bogged down, but I’ve watched the way they’ve continued to live, while at the same time encouraging everyone around them. I want Lance and Jill – and Rex as well – to know what an inspiration they’ve been to thousands of people.”
The family will receive visitors from 5-7 p.m. Thursday at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church. A graveside service will be at 9:30 a.m. on Friday at Elmwood memorial Park, and the memorial service to celebrate Rex’s life will take place at Pioneer Drive an hour later.
Grant Rampy, ACU director of public relations, said the family is encouraging everyone who will attend the funeral service to wear a jersey, shirt or other apparel of their favorite team in honor of Rex’s love of sports.
Rex will be buried wearing the jersey of his favorite baseball team, the Texas Rangers.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Rex Fleming Endowed Scholarship at ACU.
Travieso said she will miss her student, and hero.
“God added to his kingdom a most precious angel,” she said.