A very large nest of family and friends are aching at the loss of Rachel Thompson-Fleming. Although Rachel died Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, from recurrent breast cancer, her life is the more important message. Rachel had her mother's engaging smile and genuine warmth that touched thousands as she nurtured friends and cared for patients.
Although she graduated from La Crosse Central H.S., University of Michigan, Medical College of Wisconsin (MD) and Indiana University (Masters in Health Services Research) she would argue that she got at least as much education from her voluminous book reading and her connection to people from varied backgrounds and interests.
Starting out as a young pediatrician she requested to work in a clinic that served a mostly black and brown population. When asked why she was putting on a dress, makeup and heels to go to an impoverished urgent care clinic she replied that they needed to know from the first encounter I respect them as individuals and families. Being fluent in Spanish and French, and able to get by in Swahili, helped with patients and families from around the globe. Having them understand from the start that this person valued them as a person made her enormously successful at the caring part of healthcare.
Rachel was good at work...but was not all work. With family, friends, her husband, Nate, and their son, Max, no corner of the globe was left unexplored or culture left unexamined. She trained or cared for patients on four continents and visited all seven. She climbed great mountains, dove under many oceans, hiked beautiful hikes and hung out with lovely people from many countries.
Rachel helped many friends, patients, families and students find their way in tough times. Many returned that grace as she suffered several major health setbacks. We are grateful for that outpouring of love and caring from so many comforting friends and family.
Rachel's husband is Nathan Fleming; their son is Max Fleming. Sandy and Jeff Thompson are her mom and dad and Nate; and Sam are her brothers. Nate's wife is Elizabeth; and Sam's partner is Anna Dix.
A private family service will be held at the family home in La Crosse.
Memorials can be shared to Max Fleming's college fund at Ugift529.com Code K4E-V9P, or the Dr. Rachel Thompson Global Health Equity Scholarship at the Medical College of Wisconsin.