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In Loving Memory of Elvis Fleming

Elvis E. Fleming BIO

Elvis E. Fleming was born in a dugout on a farm in Bailey County, Texas, during the Dust Bowl in 1936. He graduated from high school at the age of 16 and pursued a career in country music for five years.

In 1955, Elvis married Menza Holden in Fort Worth Texas. They have two grown children, four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Elvis and Menza celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last August 13.

Elvis entered the University of Texas at Arlington in 1958, and Menza joined him in 1959. They transferred to Texas Christian University (TCU) in 1962, where they both graduated in 1962 with B. S. degrees in Secondary Education. They taught at Morton, Texas, for several years. Their daughter Fran was born in 1965, and their son Eddie was born in 1967.

Meanwhile, Elvis was working on a Master of Education degree at TCU, which he received in 1965. In 1967-68, Elvis received a fellowship to get a Master’s degree in History at Southern Methodist University (SMU), so they moved to Dallas for over a year. He completed the degree in 1968 and returned to Morton.

In 1969, Elvis accepted a faculty position at Eastern New Mexico University, Roswell Campus, to teach history and other social sciences. Five years later he was promoted to the academic rank of Assistant Professor. He was very active in the affairs of ENMU-R, and wrote a book on the history of the school in 1991; he wrote a second edition of the book in 2003.

After 28 years on the faculty, Elvis retired in 1997, at which time the ENMU Board of Regents conferred upon him the title of “Professor of History, Emeritus.” Menza retired from the Gateway Christian School faculty in 1996.

Elvis was active in the Cowboy Poetry movement, and was a regular performer and MC on the National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration in Lubbock from 1990 through 2010. During those years, he recorded three cassette albums of authentic cowboy folk songs.
While he was teaching, and especially after he retired, Elvis wrote books and articles on the history of West Texas and Southeast New Mexico. His articles appeared in several scholarly journals as well as some popular magazines. Some of the books were written solely him, some were written together with a co-writer, some he edited as well as co-wrote. They add up to over a dozen books.

Several publications and organizations have presented awards to Elvis for his writings. Southwest Heritage magazine honored him in 1976 for the best essay in the first five years of the magazine’s publication. His article was about the lost Nolan Expedition of 1877.  Fleming received the Gilberto Espinosa Prize in 1994 from the New Mexico Historical Review for the best article in the journal’s 1994 editions; the article was about “Sockless” Jerry Simpson, a famous Congressman who lived in Roswell the last several years of his life. Elvis received the Gemoets Prize from the Southern New Mexico Historical Review in 2003 for his article about Chaves County sheriff C. W. Haynes.

Another award that Elvis received in 2003 was the Gaspar Perez de Villagra Award from the New Mexico Historical Society for his book, Captain Joseph C. Lea: From Confederate Guerrilla to New Mexico Patriarch. In 2004, the National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration honored Elvis with the “American Cowboy Culture Award in Western History” to recognize his writings about ranches and cowboys.

Two other awards of which Elvis is very proud are the Lifetime Achievement Award, bestowed up on him by the Leadership Roswell Alumni Association in 2005; and the Heritage Award from the Historical Society and Foundation for Southeast New Mexico in 2009.