There were three things that always gave Thomas Fleming a charge: children, baseball, and rock music.
"His favorite band was Sevendust," said Jennifer Buffone, a friend for more than 14 years. "We must have seen them about seven times. He loved going to concerts."
A Red Sox fan, Fleming had a love for baseball that flourished during his grade-school years. He had played on the Auburn High School baseball team. After he graduated in 1990, he went to Worcester State College and earned a bachelor of science degree in health studies.
He always wanted to be a teacher, friends say. After he earned his degree, he spent several days each week learning the ropes from his former high school physical education teacher, Bill Garneau. "It's always nice to have someone from the school come back and work," said Garneau, who is now athletic director at Auburn High School. "He was a great guy, kind of a free spirit. I remember back in the late '80s, early '90s, he had this long, flowing red hair."
The red hair was shorter when he became a substitute health teacher at the middle and high schools in Auburn. Garneau said Fleming had plans to help coach the baseball team if he landed a permanent teaching position. But as a substitute he was too busy working two other jobs.
Fleming was happiest being part of a rock 'n' roll concert crowd -- down in front, singing along, and slapping hands with other concertgoers. Even then, according to longtime friend Tara Furey, he kept an eye out for his friends. At a recent Sevendust concert, Furey got swept up in a crowd of people rushing toward the stage. "He looked at me and knew I didn't want to be up there," Furey said. "He made a path for me to get through tons and tons of people . . . I know that is probably what he did that night," at the Great White concert. "I know he was just helping people out however he could."