Donald Scott Fleischman of Providence Forge, VA was called home to heaven after a valiant fight with cancer at VCU Medical Center (Richmond, VA) on October 29, 2023. He lived an incredibly full life in his short 46 years, even after being diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer in January 2023. Donald was surrounded by the love of family and friends in the days and hours before his passing. He went peacefully to be with his Lord and Savior, his wife Kristi by his side, holding his hand.
He was preceded in death by his grandparents, George and Dorothy Brinson of Thomasville, NC, Betty Lou Parise of Altamonte Springs, FL, Frank Fleischman Sr. of Beaver, PA, and his uncle Gene Brinson of Wilson, NC.
He survived by wife of 19 years, Kristi Fleischman, and their children, Brooklyn Mary and Grady James; his parents, Frank and Georgiana Fleischman of Woodstock, GA; sister, Kimberly Nofi (Alex) of Canton, GA; parents-in-law, Dick and Becky Martin of Wake Forest, NC; brothers-in-law, Luke Martin (Jessica) of Clinton, NC, and Tim Martin (Emily) of Raleigh, NC; as well as many nieces and nephews.
Donald was born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1977 to Frank Robert Fleischman, Jr. and Georgiana Brinson Fleischman. Shortly following Donalds birth, the family moved to Archdale, NC. Growing up alongside his sister Kim, Donald was a typical boy who loved doing donuts with his big wheel in the driveway, snuggling Puppy Frau (his favorite stuffed animal), and setting up the model train set at Christmas with his dad. He was also known for being slightly mischievous with his friends in high school. The love of travel was instilled early by his family, camping often and driving out of state to visit family in Pennsylvania and Florida. Donald and Kim were blessed with the opportunity to spend numerous nights with their beloved grandparents, who lived conveniently nearby. Donald held fond memories of enjoying his Grandmommy’s pot roast, one of his all-time favorite meals. He also cherished hunting trips with his father and Great Uncle Dave at the camp in Pennsylvania after Thanksgiving each year. His passion for playing and watching sports was also cultivated during these years, with Tar Heel Basketball holding a special place in his heart.
After graduating from Trinity High School, Donald enrolled at his dream school, the University North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he majored in Exercise and Sports Science. He enjoyed living near the Old Well as an underclassman and made close friends quickly. Donald met Kristin Mary Martin late in 1998 on a flag football field where she was an official and he was team captain. They began dating in the spring of 1999 and filled their college years making lifelong friends, earning their degrees and cheering for the Tar Heels. After graduating in 2000, Donald chose to stay in the Raleigh area, patiently awaiting Kristi’s graduation. Once she completed her studies, the couple embarked on a new chapter together, settling in in neighboring apartment complexes in Huntersville, NC, as they started their respective careers.
In July 2004, Donald and Kristi were married and bought their first house. They chose to live near Lake Norman and spent most summer weekends cruising the waters on their boat, accompanied by cherished friends. Donald joined an adult basketball league, indulged in the occasional rounds of golf whenever time allowed, and created many backyard games with friends. They felt incredibly fortunate to have many college friends living around the Charlotte area which allowed them to maintain these friendships.
Although Donald started his sales career in retail through college, it was during his time at Outdoor Grill Works selling premium casual furniture and grills where his skill of design and salesmanship blossomed. He was recruited to begin a 20+ year career with Lloyd Flanders Casual Furniture first based in Charlotte, NC as a sub-rep for NC/SC with his mentor, Bryan Echols. In 2007, Donald and Kristi relocated from Charlotte to New Kent County Virginia (near Richmond) after Donald accepted the Mid-Atlantic geography with Lloyd Flanders. Clients quickly accepted him as part of their most trusted reps and his career flourished.
In 2010, Donald and Kristi started their family by welcoming daughter Brooklyn. Donald was smitten with his baby girl from her very first breath. They completed their family in 2012 when Grady was born, and Donald was thrilled to have a son with whom he could share a special bond. Donald was the most involved dad as he was often a single parent while Kristi traveled extensively for work when the kids were young. This meant he participated in every single stage of his children’s lives. Watching them grow, learn new things, and become great little athletes brought him immense pride and joy. He was the parent the kids went to when math got hard or when they needed dad jokes to brighten their day. He was the dad who encouraged the family to go to Montana at the beginning of the pandemic and built a life-size igloo, complete with a luge slide for the kids to ride. Donald was the teacher, Mr. Fleischman, when schools were closed. Grady loved how his dad was always trying to teach people new things like wake surfing and perfecting their basketball shots. Brooklyn loved when her dad taught her to ride her pink princess bike and took the family to Montana to ski. She especially loved his cooking. Both kids loved watching The Office together in recent months as a special bonding time with Donald as his mobility decreased.
Everyone who knew Donald knew he was eager to enjoy life, and that outlook on life was contagious. He loved traveling for vacations and rarely did he leave one vacation without having the next trip planned. His motto was “Trips on trips on trips!” He loved his friends fiercely and wanted them to experience life the way he saw it- as one big adventure that could be on a mountain snowboarding, playing pool volleyball at the beach or floating and boating on the river. He transformed a small guys’ snowboard trip into an annual retreat with friends who became as close as brothers. His love of water and spending quality time with friends led his desire to have a place on the river and in 2017 it became a reality with their dear friends, the Tottens. The Chickahominy River was one of Donald’s “Happy Places”, where sunsets spread across the horizon after a long summer day on the boat. The cherished moments when he let Brooklyn and Grady drive the boat or have a boat dance party under the lights after dinner at Taylor’s, his favorite marina, are unforgettable. Whether he was hosting people at the river or coordinating international trips for 32 friends, he made the most of his party called life, and hundreds of people will have fond memories forever.
Donald was also known for his unparalleled entrepreneurial drive. Over the last 10 years, Donald started or was a partner in 8 diverse businesses with friends that leveraged his unique vision and magnetic personality. These endeavors ranged from athleisure and club volleyball apparel, vacation home design/development in Whitefish Montana, to luxury mattresses. His last big endeavor was starting Paragon Defenders with close friends Stuart and Chase Evans. As General Manager, he turned clients’ dreams into reality by designing and restoring classic Land Rover Defenders into one-of-a-kind, bespoke trucks. Donald was not just a dreamer, but a doer, and he leaves a legacy of creativity, determination, and success for his children.
As an active member of King of Glory Lutheran Church- New Kent, Donald’s faith grew stronger throughout his journey this year. He was so grateful for Pastor Larry McReynolds’ prayers and spiritual guidance along the way. He frequently said how thankful he was to have faith in God’s perfect plan, and assurance that he would have eternal rest with Jesus when the time came. Towards the end of his stay in the hospital, it was obvious his wings were ready, but our hearts were not.
Donald will always be remembered for his ability to bring people together, for his unwavering support for his family and friends, and his incredible love of life. We could not have asked for a better husband, father, son or best friend, and will miss Donald tremendously, every day. We absolutely wish we had more time with him but are at peace knowing he is the best guardian angel a person could hope for in heaven.
We can honor him by being impatient about living life – dream big and do what it takes to make big dreams become reality, get involved in a faith community who can sustain you through all of life’s journeys, and spend valuable time with family and friends. Finally, Donald would say “Take the Trip!”
A Celebration of Life will be December 2, 2023, at King of Glory Lutheran Church (4897 Longhill Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23188). A visitation will start at 1 p.m. with a service to follow at 2:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, Donald requested donations be made to the Building Fund at King of Glory New Kent (4800 North Courthouse Road, Providence Forge, VA 23140, or www.kognk.org). A memorial fund for the Estate of Donald Fleischman is also being established for Brooklyn and Grady’s education at Wells Fargo Bank.