When Margaret Fishler Fleet graduated from St. Joseph's Academy of Music in Fernandina Beach many years ago, her piano teacher, Sister Nola, gave Margaret the nun's only worldly possession, a lace handkerchief as a present. So profound was Margaret's love of music that she made sure each of her four daughters and her granddaughters carried the handkerchief during their own wedding. Margaret, who lived in Jacksonville for the majority of her life, died of natural causes on February 8, 2013 in Brookline, Massachusetts. She was 93. A week before Margaret died, she mustered the energy to perform a final piano recital for her family.
Born June 28, 1919, in Fernandina Beach, Florida to Clara and Morris Fishler, Margaret attended Florida State College for Women, where she received a Bachelor of Arts. She met the love of her life, the late Dr. Joel Fleet, when she was 15 and married him six years later in 1940 at the Jacksonville Jewish Center. Together, they raised five children.
Her daughters noted that Margaret was "known for her grace, wit, intelligence, positive attitude and enthusiasm for life," and that "she has been an inspiring role model for her children and her extended family and friends. "
Playing the piano was not the only way Margaret expressed her passion for music. She also sang in synagogue choirs at the Jacksonville Jewish Center and at Temple Emanuel in Newton, Massachusetts where she relocated five years ago to be closer to her children and grandchildren.
Margaret and her husband Joel were dedicated and enthusiastic supporters of cultural activities throughout their life. According to her daughters, they were a constant presence at every art opening, musical event, or theatrical production possible in Jacksonville."
Margaret served as president of the Friends of the Fine Arts at Jacksonville University, the Friday Musicale, the Delius Association of Florida, the Duval County Medical Society Auxiliary, the Jacksonville chapter of Hadassah, and the North Florida chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters. She also served as a board member of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, the Child Guidance and Speech Clinic, and the American Cancer Society.
In 1991, Jacksonville University dedicated a Fine Arts Day in Margaret Fleet's honor. In addition to her leadership positions, Margaret was a proud member of the Jacksonville Music Teachers' Association, the Cultural Council of Jacksonville, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, the Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art, the Jacksonville Historical Society, Theatre Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Symphony Guild, Wolfson Children's Hospital Auxiliary, and the St. Johns Dinner Club. She was a Finalist for the Eve Award for Volunteer Services of Jacksonville. When not engaged with her volunteer work and musical endeavors, Margaret enjoyed visiting art galleries, going to the opera, traveling extensively with her husband, and spending time with her family and friends.
When Margaret moved to Newton, Massachusetts five years ago, she immediately became an active member of the community. She regularly took courses at the Lasell Village retirement community in which she lived and sang with their choir and participated in cultural activities. Margaret was also an active participant in the events at Tufts University.
In addition to Dr. Fleet, Margaret Fishler Fleet is predeceased by her son Dr. Jack Fleet, her brothers Herbert William Fishler and Samuel Fishler, and her sister Laura Fishler. She is survived by her four daughters: Claire Fleet Berkman (Arnold), Dolly Corlin (Rod), Adele Fleet Bacow (Lawrence), and Robin Fleet (Phillip Coleman). Fleet is survived by her grandchildren, as well, Micah Seth Siegel (Ksenia Zvereva), Janna Schwartz (George), Eric Berkman (Brett), Joshua Berkman (Robin), Jay Fleet Bacow (Terri), Kenny Bacow (Nina Kleaveland), Laura Corlin, Sarah Coleman, and nine great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that a contribution in Margaret's honor be made to a charity of your choice. Her funeral will be held at the Jacksonville Jewish Center located at 3662 Crown Point Rd., Jacksonville FL 32257 on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 1pm followed by burial at Old Center Cemetery (Temple Gate)
Words of comfort can be left at www.hardage-giddenshendricksave.com
Arrangements are under the care and direction of Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home 4115 Hendricks Ave. Jacksonville, FL 32207. (904) 346-3808.