Donald Pliny Cleveland
Don Cleveland passed away quietly after a ten day stay at Hospice House in Kennewick, Washington. He had resided with his daughter, Nancy, and her husband, in Richland. He and Anne moved to the Tri Cities in 2005. Don especially enjoyed the time he spent with his granddaughter, Soonhe.
Don was born July 5, 1910 to Charles Patton and Charlotte Maud (Black) Cleveland in Bloom, North Dakota. He was the oldest of three. Twins, Lorraine Gail and Roger Dale were born in 1915.
He often spoke of how his dad worked all year “sun up to sun down” as a farmer in Kellogg, MN. They had no tractor and did all the work with horses and hand tools. They also kept twenty milk cows. It was a hard life, but one he would not want to change. In order to attend school five miles away, he had to stay with friends during the week. By age ten he had a Welsh Pony to ride, and by 14 he drove the family car to school! He enjoyed swimming, fishing, baseball and ice skating. He said he graduated third in his class … of four … three girls and himself.
It always brought tears to Don’s eyes to say, “Dad wore himself out working the farm and then had to borrow money at the end of the year to make ends meet.” By 1929 the family drove away from their five bedroom farmhouse with the summer kitchen, in a family mourning car with a mattress in the rear … the Cleveland RV. Their destination was Three Tree Point, WA where cousin Finchy was a realtor. She helped them get a new start. Don began working at Fredrick’s and his mom went to work for Boeing. The twins were still in high school and his dad was not well … he had lost health and spirit during the great depression. Don loved and respected his mom for her hard work, quiet wisdom and dedication to family ... and her cooking was the BEST.
Don helped at home until age 31. He married Annie Lee Hammond on August 9, 1941. He and Anne purchased their first home in West Seattle that same year. Their only daughter, Nancy, was born 6 years later. Don worked as a machinist for Boeing for over thirty years. He loved his work and did not want to ruin a good thing by becoming a foreman. Don could fix just about anything … and if he couldn’t, he’d just make a new one. He once bought a motorcycle “in a box” that the previous owner had tried to reconstruct for many months. Don had it running in a few hours. After retiring, he had quite a list of friends on his lawn mowing circuit. At about age 85, he commented that he was off to mow a “little old lady’s lawn”.
Don made the adjustment to Tri Cites easier by using his cell phone to keep in touch with many friends and relatives. He added more and more folks to his “menu” as the months went by. He was concerned for the welfare of each person he knew. He did his best to keep us all connected.
Don never gave up. Even a few days before he died, he was eating … “to stay alive”. He wrote, “Success is a state of mind … things and money do not make you a real success.” When asked, in 1996, how his idea about God had changed over the years, he said, “I realize now how awesome He really is, and how much we should pay attention to what He is telling us in the Bible.”
Don is survived by his daughter, Nancy, her husband, Mo, grandchildren Raymond, Joel, and Soonhe, and great grandchildren, Aja, Maelyn, and Ramon.
Published October 22, 2008 in the West Seattle Herald.