Roberta Downman Fleming

The picture above shows Harriot F. ?(standing), Clarissa F, a friend, and Mary F. with Roberta F. in the foreground. This picture was taken c1910 on the porch of the Post Office/Telephone Exchange in The Plains, Virginia.

Roberta Fleming as remembered by Mike Harris, January 2015 (in a note to Henry Rust, his nephew)

Roberta Downman Fleming, next in line after Frances and Mary, was the Norman Rockwell picture of everyone’s sweet maiden aunt . There was nothing that couldn’t be put to rights, no crisis that couldn’t be resolved, no knee too badly skinned, that a cookie couldn’t fix. “Have one of these nice little cakes” was her mantra.

Although she loved us all dearly, anything or anyone Rust was especially dear. She idolized Will, your grandfather, and never missed an opportunity to clarion Bill’s (your father) latest accomplishment. Whether a new radio station, a new airplane (he took her flying at least once), or a new offspring, Aunt Roberta was all over it .

Until she moved to Wirt Street (across the street from her sister Mary), she ran the house at Green Mont. This included planning the meals, overseeing the help, shopping at the Warrenton Safeway, collecting fresh eggs from the henhouse, and seeing that a hot breakfast, sumptuous noontime dinner, and supper were all on the table at her appointed hour.

IMG_2426 blog.jpegRoberta Downman Fleming on the mounting block at Green Mont  1945?

Uncle Lee needed to lunch at noon,especially at threshing when he had a large crew at work.  Aunt Roberta wouldn’t consider changing from one o’clock; noon was not appropriate for Green Mont family. Nor was anyone allowed in the pantry or kitchen except the help. She had her own routine based on her remembrance of how ‘it has always been done’.

As noted above, she had a lifelong attachment to all things Rust. According to my mother – not always the most credible source of information -Aunt Roberta could often be found sitting at Will’s gravesite in contemplation. She lived most of the remainder of her life across the street from Mary.

Lee Fleming left Green Mont to his sisters Harriot, Roberta, and Anne. Anne became de facto managing partner, traveling back and forth from Richmond. They gave it their best, but when WFR Jr offered to buy them out (1959), they were ready to sell. A definite case of family partnership not working too well. Even ‘nice little cakes’ couldn’t fix that.

IMG_0041 blog.jpeg
Roberta Downman Fleming at Green Mont c1891
If any one has anything they would like to add  about Roberta, a story or maybe just a memory, please email it to me and I’ll post it. It would be so appreciated. Thanks

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