Great Aycliffe Town Council has announced the passing of councillor Bob Fleming.
Bob – who died on Monday – served the town council with distinction for some 36 years, having been elected to the council in 1987.
He was awarded the rare honour of Freeman of the Town in 2015 for his long service, outstanding achievement and relentless support for the local community.
He was leader of the town council Labour Group and chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee for many years.
He also served on numerous occasions as chairman of its individual sub-committees and working groups, working hard to provide and protect the facilities, events and services enjoyed by the residents of the parish of Great Aycliffe, along with being a champion for its green and pleasant environment.
“His achievements over the years are too numerous to mention here, but many residents will remember him for the quiet but effective assistance he gave to all those who approached him for help,” said a council statement.
“Many town councillors also have Bob to thank for mentoring them and helping get to grips with their roles and Council protocols.”
Town council clerk Dan Austin said: “I had the pleasure of working closely with Bob for more than 20 years, going back to my early career at Sedgefield Borough Council.
“He was somebody whom I had the utmost respect for – hugely knowledgeable and wise, a master politician, calm, dignified, softly spoken, tough when he needed to be, a strong leader, and above all a gentleman.
“I am truly saddened by his passing and will dearly miss his sage advice, stories, and encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Great Aycliffe Town Council.”
Bob also served as a member of Durham County Council and eventually also became leader of Sedgefield Borough Council, helping to secure substantial Local Improvement Programme monies for Great Aycliffe, which resulted in significant investment in parks and play areas.
He had a long teaching career, completing his career as head teacher. His commitment to education continued however, and he was chair of governors for Greenfield School, Woodham Comprehensive and Woodham Burn Primary Schools for many years.
Bob also had a distinguished military career, initially in the British Army then in later years in the Territorial Army, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
He commanded a Durham Light Infantry Battalion which, with army reorganisations, became the 7th Battalion the Light Infantry. The DLI motto is ‘Faithful’, one word which sums Bob up.
The council statement added: “The many people who met or worked with Bob over many years will remember him for his love for his family, his fondness for fishing and his garden, his strong commitment to his social beliefs, his dignified and courteous manner, but also for his approachability and wonderful sense of humour.
“His kindness, strength and wisdom will be greatly missed and always remembered.”
Funeral details to follow.