Proud Of East Texas: The Hat Doctor

By Joan Hallmark

Working out of his shop, The Hat Doctor, in downtown Ben Wheeler, Rex Fleming is one of only a handful of custom hat makers still left in he entire country. After a 22 year career in the Air Force, Fleming took up hat making in 1990. He says, "it's not a job, it's a passion".

While much of Fleming's business comes from horse show people and rodeo queens, he also loves to bring new life back into favorite old hats. Using antique equipment that isn't even made anymore, he sands, shapes, cuts, and sews custom hats and refurbishes old ones. Fleming says he knows he'll never get rich as a hat maker but his customers satisfaction is reward enough. The Hat Doctor is located at 1560 FM 279, Suite C in downtown Ben Wheeler.

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