Leading Designer Thomas Joseph Fleming Dies at 88

Thomas Joseph Fleming
Thomas Joseph Fleming

Thomas Joseph Fleming, a leading interior designer, died on February 28, with members of his family at his side. He was 88.

Fleming was the son of Lawrence and Marguerite Fleming and was born in Lynbrook. After graduating with a B.A. in journalism from Indiana University in 1955, he moved to New York City. With no experience other than decorating his walkup in Hell’s Kitchen, Fleming claimed he was hired by his future partner, Keith Irvine, because, “I had no formal training but was interested in interior design.”

In 1967, Fleming became a partner in Irvine and Fleming. He spent more than 50 years designing and decorating for scores of clients across the country and around the world who valued the way he understood their vision and completed projects that exceeded their expectations. His award-winning work was published in Architectural Digest and other publications. Fleming was recognized for his work in the magazine’s vaunted list, “The AD 100: Top Designers and Architects.”

While working and living in the city, Fleming met the love of his life, Dr. Jack Hagstrom. He and Hagstrom enjoyed telling friends how they met and how they came to realize they were both born on December 2, 1933. They were married in Vermont in 2008 and spent more than 50 years together. He and Hagstrom built their home “High Tension” on the South Fork, as well as their cabin “Wit’s End” in upstate Maine. They both enjoyed the outdoors, a good martini and weekends full of entertaining family and friends.

Fleming believed that a family should support and celebrate one another. He hosted numerous family reunions and never missed his nieces’ and nephews’ graduations or weddings. Fleming regularly broke out in song to toast the occasion and was often the life of the party.

He was preceded in death by his spouse, Dr. Hagstrom, his siblings, John and Robert Fleming, Sister Mary Gregory, OSF, and Jane Coyne, and his nephews and niece, Terence, Kenneth and Ginger Fleming. Fleming is survived by 13 nieces and nephews who are located from coast to coast and will miss his love and laughter.

A celebration of life at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church is planned for Monday, April 4 at 3 p.m. in Bridgehampton. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to one of Fleming’s favorite charities: City Harvest (cityharvest.org) or God’s Love We Deliver (glwd.org). If you prefer, please consider a charity of your choice.

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