William “Bill” J. Cleland, 92, Edwards
Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - 6:53 pm

William "Bill" J. Cleland passed away on September 30, 2010 at the Clifton-Fine Hospital, Star Lake.

Bill was born in Edwards, on June 20, 1918 to the late William Othneil and Mertie (Grant) Cleland. When his father died unexpectedly, Bill left school at the age of sixteen to help support his mother and siblings. At that time he worked hauling materials and livestock all over New York and many of the Eastern States.

In June of 1944 Bill was inducted into the Army and served in the 10th Infantry 5th Division as a Staff Sergeant in the Motor Transportation Company. During WWII he was in the Ardennes, Central Europe and the Rhineland. He served with General Patton during the Battle of the Bulge. He received his Combat Infantry Badge in Feb 1945. Bill was awarded the American Campaign Medal; EAME Campaign Medal; Good Conduct Medal and the WWII Victory Medal. He was Honorably Discharged in April 1946. Bill was recalled for the Korean Conflict as an Instructor for a short time.

Upon Bill's return from WWII he was employed by St. Joseph Lead Co as a Shop Maintenance Mechanic. He continued to work for the company and rose to the position of Superintendent of Maintenance until his retirement in September 1986. Throughout his employment Bill was noted for his exceptional ability to solve mechanical problems. He modified existing equipment to fit the specific needs of the mine. When he could not modify equipment he designed and made it. Because of his unique talent and understanding of the mining process he was asked to come out of retirement and worked an additional seven years as a Maintenance Consultant. He often said those were the best seven years of his life.

Bill was an avid aviation enthusiast. He flew a Piper Cub and later a Cessna with the Fowler Flying Club. He was always generous in offering rides to anyone who was adventurous enough to go. Cadillac’s were the car of choice for Bill when traveling by ground. Bill also had a strong interest in steam engines.

Bill is survived by his nieces, Judy (Dave) Schoolcraft and Kate (Martin) Reed; and eight great nieces and nephews. And with gratitude to special friends Mildred Goodheart and Emory and Andrea Webb.

He was predeceased by his parents; brother Ives Cleland; sister Edith (Tom) Duffy; and nephews Patrick Duffy and Michael Duffy.

In 1818 the first William Cleland came from Scotland to help settle the town of Edwards. The passing of Bill marks the last William Cleland to live in Edwards.

Calling hours will be at French Funeral Home, Edwards on Sunday, October 17th from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. His Funeral Service will follow at the Funeral Home Oct 17th at 2 p.m. with Rev. Lee Sweeney officiating. Burial with Military Honors will follow in the Fairview Cemetary, Edwards.

Donations may be made in Bill's memory to the Edwards Historical Assn and the Edwards Rescue Squad.