On this Veterans Day—originally enacted as Armistace Day to mark the end of World War I—Fleeson Gooing pauses to remember its namesake, Howard T. Fleeson.
Mr. Fleeson was born on August 7, 1895, in Sterling, Kansas. He attended Cooper Memorial College (later renamed Sterling College) where he was an all-conference football player.
Following college, Mr. Fleeson enlisted in the Army and became a member of the newly-formed Army Air Service, the forerunner of the United States Air Force. He served in World War I as a member of the 12th Aero Squadron and, as an observer gunner, was credited with three aerial victories from the back seat of a Salmson 2a2 airplane.
In 1919, Mr. Fleeson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The citation accompanying this award read as follows:
“The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Second Lieutenant (Air Service) Howard T. Fleeson, United States Army Air Service, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with 12th Aero Squadron, U.S. Army Air Service, A.E.F., in the St. Mihiel salient, France, 12 September 1918. Second Lieutenant Fleeson and Second Lieutenant Dogan H. Arthur, pilot, executed a difficult mission of infantry contact patrol, without protection of accompanying battle planes, on the first day of the St. Mihiel offensive. After being driven back twice by a patrol of 9 enemy planes, they courageously made a third attempt in the face of a third attack by the same planes, found the American lines, and after being shot down, but falling uninjured in friendly territory, communicated their valuable information to headquarters.”
Following the war, Mr. Fleeson attended Yale Law School. After graduating, he returned to Kansas and, in 1923, joined the law firm of Brooks & Brooks, which had been founded in 1886 by C.H. Brooks. The firm then changed its name to Brooks, Brooks & Fleeson and, over the following years, grew and eventually evolved into the firm of Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch.
Mr. Fleeson was a highly respected business, insurance and bankruptcy litigator who also served as a referee in bankruptcy court. He was well-known for his representation of the Southwest Kansas Royalty Owners Association as well as the Fall River Landowners in federal condemnation actions. He and his wife Katherine were also active in Wichita’s civic affairs.
Howard Fleeson died unexpectedly on May 7, 1957, when he suffered a heart attack after returning to Wichita from a business trip. He left behind a legacy of service to his country and leadership to our firm, and for both, we are grateful.