Brandon's Blog: A Life Lost Too Soon

Sept. 27, 2011

University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page,, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.

Michigan football Saturdays are truly a celebration of many of the things we appreciate in our life. As a fan or someone who works the games, friendship, teamwork and great entertainment provide all of us with memorable moments we cherish.

This Saturday, our Michigan Marching Band will again entertain and fire up the crowd, helping create the fun atmosphere we will expect when we enter the Big House.

However, this time they will be doing it with tears in their eyes and a very heavy heart.

On Monday (Sept. 26), Patrick Fleming, an Ann Arbor Pioneer High School grad and trumpeter for our Michigan Marching Band, was killed in an automobile accident on US-23.

He was a special individual with a special skill and love for the Michigan Marching Band.

Patrick was a 21-year-old University of Michigan student. He did not take classes on the Ann Arbor campus; he was a student at the University of Michigan-Flint.

This young man wasn't on scholarship; he had to work to make it through school. Between performing, practicing and studying he had to work full time at a retirement home to raise the funds necessary to realize his dream.

Every weekday, Patrick drove 112 miles back and forth -- to Flint for school and back to Ann Arbor for the 90-minute band practice.

It was on his way to school Monday morning that he lost his life.

This Saturday, when PA announcer Carl Grapentine says "Band, take the field," they will be high-stepping out of the tunnel with one of their former band members missing.

The band will look no different unless you look very closely. When they are in any of their formations, the band will leave an unoccupied space in the trumpet section where Patrick is supposed to be standing. Patrick Fleming will be missed by us all. The Michigan Marching Band was an important part of Patrick's life, and he was an important part of what makes our band special.

We can still celebrate the Michigan football game on this autumn afternoon. But please take time to remember and celebrate Patrick's life -- one that was taken from us way too soon.

The Michigan Athletic Department extends its prayers and sympathies to Patrick's family and the members of the Michigan Marching Band who knew and loved him.

May he rest in peace.


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