Basketball was good to William M. Fleming.

In 1947, he earned a basketball scholarship to Duke University, where he was a starter on a nationally ranked team with Dick Groat, the future Major League Baseball star.

Before he entered the Marine Corps in 1953, he bought an engagement ring for his future bride with money earned playing semipro basketball.

And while a teacher at Harriton High School, he had a simultaneous career as the varsity basketball coach.

On Friday, April 13, Mr. Fleming, 82, of West Chester, died at Chester County Hospital of complications from a stroke.

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Fleming graduated from Northeast High School in 1947 and earned a bachelor's degree in history and political science at Duke in 1953.

His wife, Eleanor, who had known him since their high school days, said that he was a starter for three years on the Duke basketball team and that he earned "honorable-mention All-American" ranking at a time when Duke teams were powers in what was then the Southern Conference.

Mr. Fleming, Groat, and one other athlete were the only three to earn Duke letters in the 1950, 1951, and 1952 basketball seasons, according to a Duke-related website.

In 1951, Duke's record was 20-13, and in 1952, it was 24-6.

Mr. Fleming, a 6-foot-3 forward at Duke, entered the Marine Corps in 1953. His job was playing on morale-boosting Marine basketball teams on military bases.

His teaching career began in 1955 in Lewiston, Pa., where he taught American history to high school classes until 1957, while earning a master's degree in history and political science at Pennsylvania State University.

Before Harriton High opened, his wife said, Mr. Fleming taught in 1957-58 at Lower Merion High.

Then, from 1958 to his retirement in 1985, he taught history, sociology, and psychology at Harriton High, while earning a second Penn State master's, in counseling and guidance, in 1962.

For all but two years, his wife said, he earned a second income as the head coach of the varsity basketball team and, in some of those years, he coached the golf team and the girls' tennis team, too.

As he got older, being on the basketball court himself was never out of the question.

"Oh, gosh, yes," his wife said.

"My daughter used to laugh because he played with kids a lot younger and, she said, what he lacked in speed, he made up for in cunning. He was still playing when our kids were college age."

Besides his wife of 58 years, Mr. Fleming is survived by a son, William T. Fleming; a daughter, Beth Buglio; two brothers; and four grandchildren.

A visitation was set from 10 a.m. Friday, April 20, at West Chester United Methodist Church, 129 S. High St., West Chester, before an 11 a.m. memorial service, followed by a luncheon there. Burial is to be private.

Contact Walter F. Naedele

at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.