Jim Fleschner was an unlikely candidate to attend Servite High School. With encouragement from teachers and classmates, he overcame difficult challenges to not only graduate in Servite’s first class, but went on to serve his country in the armed forces and develop a successful business career.
Jim had a troubled youth. He was a good student in early years of grammar school, but mischievous ways landed him in reform school, foster homes and juvenile hall from age 10 – 14. He was adopted by his aunt and uncle, Cora and Leo Seitz, who told him that he would attend a new school in 1958, Servite High School. Jim and his new brother, Joe Seitz ’64, rode their bikes to the Servite construction site to watch the school being built from its earliest foundations.
Jim felt under-qualified to handle the rigors of a college prep education having missed the better part of 5th through 8th grades. He recalls how Servite’s first principal, Fr. Maurice Gillespie, OSM, told him if he stayed out of trouble and worked hard, he would see to it that he graduated from Servite.
Jim did his part. He read every book in the Servite library, but struggled in math. By attending summer school and with the help and encouragement of Fr. Bernard Paul, OSM, and classmates Milt Price, Dan Riley and Gil Trujillo (+), he was allowed to graduate with the first Servite class, the Class of 1962.
Following graduation, Jim enlisted in the military, serving in the U.S. Army artillery division for three years. Upon discharge from the Army, he learned how to drive freight trucks and later developed a trucking business he ran for 15 years transporting freight between Los Angeles and Seattle. Today, Jim and his wife, Carol, own a synthetic oil distribution business, J.C. Great Oil.
Jim visited Servite recently to see the new Alumni Garden listing of graduates. “You keep Servite for life,”’ he said. “In the beginning, none of us wanted to be here. But, we gradually started to feel a pioneering spirit and pride in Servite, and the brotherhood started happening. It is a special feeling you don’t experience anywhere else. Servite guides you and makes you a better person.”
At the 2012 Excellence in Leadership Dinner, Jim was part of a special new Servite alumni recognition. He and his classmates were the first recipients of the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Congratulations Jim and the Class of 1962!