Fleishman service set for Friday
Daily Staff Writer
Jason Fleishman, former Vail Valley resident, dies a day after college graduation.
“He was so wise and mature beyond his years,” said friend and former Vail Valley resident Emily Jacob. “He was just plain fun and could fit into any adult situation.”
Fleishman died suddenly Sunday night in a Burlington, Vt., hospital from a massive bacterial infection. He died slightly more than 24 hours after graduating from Middlebury College. Memorial services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Temple Emanuel in Denver and at 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Vail Interfaith Chapel.
To his stepfather, Frank Johnson of Vail, Fleishman was an inspiration.
“I don’t know that you could have lived it any better than he did in the last few years of his life,” said Johnson, who is president of the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau. “He was the best.”
Friend Joel Heath, who often worked with Fleishman when he volunteered for special events, gave this heartfelt assessment: “He was impressive. It’s hard not to feel cheated.”
“More than anything, this is one kid that got life and understood his mission was to make a difference in the world,” Heath said.
Shortly after Fleishman participated in the traditional post-graduation “ski down” for mid-term graduates at the Middlebury Snow Bowl Saturday, he complained of feeling poorly. He’d just completed his pre-medical studies and was aiming at a medical career.
Johnson and his wife, Tina Fleishman – Jason’s mother – were in Vermont along with Jason’s younger brother, Brett, for the graduation. When Jason fell ill, it appeared to them as if he may have had the flu, Johnson said.
“We were there for his graduation,” Johnson said. “The next day he didn’t get any better.”
Johnson, Tina and Brett flew back to Denver Sunday morning and shortly after landing received word Jason was in intensive care in Burlington. The three turned around and caught the next plane back to Vermont and arrived shortly before Jason died.
“Jason didn’t wait until he was an adult to grow up,” Johnson said. “He started at 14,15 and 16 to be a real contributor. He was actively engaged.
“At Minturn Middle School he did things in a way more responsible manner than people his age would tend to do. He volunteered for all the events we ever did,” at the Vail Chamber and Tourism Bureau, Johnson said.
Jason was diagnosed with epilepsy at 16, just a week after getting his driver’s license, Johnson said. The health challenge dictated that he would not be allowed to drive again. Instead of making that challenge an excuse, he turned his attention elsewhere.
“At that point he shifted direction and ran for student council and got elected vice president at Battle Mountain High School,” Johnson said. “He even volunteered to work with athletes in the Special Olympics and was on the adult training squad all over the state of Colorado. He was pretty remarkable in that way.
“When he went to Middlebury College he attacked that with the same energy and enthusiasm,” Johnson continued. “He became the president of the ski patrol and as a trained EMT worked in the athletic department’s training room for the rugby and other teams. He became the youngest member in history of the board of directors of the Epilepsy Foundation of Vermont.
“He was the best – caring, mature and he was grown up way, way beyond his years,” Johnson said.
The family is asking that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Epilepsy Foundation of Vermont: P.O. Box 6292, Rutland, Vt., 05702. The Foundation can also be reached at (800)565-0972
Fleishman is survived by his mother Tina Fleishman, a psychologist who lives in Vail; father Craig Fleishman of Denver; stepfather Frank Johnson; sister Jodi, 18, and brother Brett, 21.
Cliff Thompson can be reached via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 949-0555 ext. 450.