08-17-16 WDA: In Remembrance: John Cleland…

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John ClelandIn Remembrance: John Cleland

Western Dairy is saddened to hear of the passing of John Cleland. John ran Cleland Dairy in Erie, Colo. for many years and was a former board director and great friend of Western Dairy. Please join us in sending thoughts and prayers for healing to the Cleland family.

On August 11, 2016 the world lost a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, neighbor, and a friend. John T. Cleland died peacefully at his dairy farm home, surrounded by his family, after a battle with bladder cancer.

John was born in Gladstone, IL on October 22, 1934 to Howard M. and Mable (Torrance) Cleland. He was raised on the family farm, and his upbringing there led him to say later that the farming lifestyle “kind of gets in your blood.” 

It was during high school that John began to express interest in Shirley Powell. In 1950 he left a doll for her under the Christmas tree at church, with the card signed from a secret admirer. Luckily, Shirley decided she was also interested in John. The couple dated for most of their junior and senior years of high school. After they graduated from high school, John moved to San Diego, CA to attend college and work. Shirley stayed in Illinois, and the two shared a long distance romance with many phone calls and trips back and forth. On October 29, 1955 the two were married at St. Mary’s Baptist Church in Plymouth, IL. The newlyweds made their first home together in San Diego, CA.

John earned his engineering degree at San Diego State, and worked in the aeronautics industry for seven years. During these years, John and Shirley had begun to expand their family. They welcomed their first child, Gary Lee, in 1956. Two years later, their daughter Kay Lynn was born.

In August of 1960, John’s job brought the family to Aurora, CO. He was working on the Titan One Missile project, which meant constant travel to missile sites in California, Idaho, South Dakota, Kansas, and Washington. A family man and farmer at heart, John decided to look for a way to support his family. In the spring of 1964, he was finally able to go back to the country and farming. John and Shirley purchased their present farm in Erie, just outside Lafayette. The original farm had 80 acres and 27 milking cows.

Shirley and John’s third child, Linda Michelle, was born in 1967. By this time the dairy farm had become successful enough to support the family. It wasn’t an easy beginning though. John had to do most of the work himself using an old truck and an old tractor. That old truck would continue to run for many years, and John kept it even after he was able to buy himself three new tractors.

John was a proud member of DFA. He served on the board of directors of the milk coop for 25 years and was on the executive committee for many years. He also served a four year term with the Production Credit Association, now known as Ag America. In his spare time, John loved fishing, elk hunting, and travelling with Shirley.

John is preceded in death by his parents; sisters Helen Forman, June Livermore, and Betty Avery; and brother Donald Cleland. He is survived by his wife Shirley of Erie; children Gary L. (Rhonda) of Erie, Kay L. (Dan) Dersham of Pines Bluff, WY, and Linda M. (Bob Gorman) Cleland of Erie; brothers Dale and Elgie of San Diego, Jim (Sandra) of Effingham, IL, and sister Margie Quick of Huxley, IA; four grandchildren Cristen (Dan) Breuer, Sarah (Matt) Kosorok, Joshua (Sarah Driver) Cleland, and Jesse (Lindsay) Dersham; and two great-grandchildren Morgan Kosorok and Jovie Dersham.

Services will be held at Darrell Howe Mortuary (1701 W. South Boulder Road, Lafayette, CO 80026) on Thursday, August 18 with visitation from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m., and funeral service at 10:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in John’s name to Halcyon Hospice, or the First Baptist Church of Lafayette.

Western Dairy Association works on behalf of dairy farm families in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming.  WDA is centered on driving sales and trust in dairy foods and dairy farms. All activities are developed with strategic and catalytic partnerships; education and awareness to communities about the local value and contributions of dairy farms, health and nutrition benefits of dairy foods amongst diverse consumer, business and school groups. Learn more about the WDA – CLICK HERE