In Memoriam: James Walter Cleveland

James Walter (Jim) Cleveland, longtime resident of Rio Rancho, passed away on Friday, May 24, 2019 due to circumstances arising from a long period of ill health.  Jim was born on Tuesday, April 17, 1945 in Pittsburgh, PA.  He grew up in Vandergrift, PA and graduated from Kiski High School.  Upon graduation, Jim enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, NM, where he met and married his wife Sue.  He then enrolled at New Mexico State University, where he earned a mechanical engineering degree. He had a successful career in engineering design and heat treating at Hughes Tool Co. and Reed Tool Co. in Houston, and in forging at the Torrington Bearing Company in South Carolina.  Jim and Sue returned to Rio Rancho, NM in 1994 and, after working as a consultant, Jim directed his efforts towards raising his sons, James and Royce.  He was a deacon at First Baptist Church of Rio Rancho and served on numerous community boards and commissions including the City of Rio Rancho Utilities Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission.  A big sports fan (always a Steeler fan), he worked many high school sports tournaments for the New Mexico Activities Association, spent many hours volunteering for the Storm baseball team, and supported Rio Rancho Public Schools and other community causes in many often-unheralded ways. 

Known as a man of faith and for his generosity and his service to the community, Jim will be missed by wife, Sue Cleveland; sons, James Cleveland and Royce Cleveland; brother, Harry Cleveland; sister, Donna Pirhalla; nieces, Daina Cleveland, Kathleen Moore, Laurie Henry; great-nieces and nephews, Isaiah King, Abigail King, Marissa Moore, and Nathan Henry, Nathan’s daughter, Madelynn Henry; and his many friends.  Jim was preceded in death by his parents, James W. Cleveland and Leona Shannon Cleveland; and by his nephew, Sam Cleveland.  Special thanks to his caregivers Patricia Schwartz, Charlene Tohonnie and Nancy Suarez-Garcia for their support. 

A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Saturday, June 15, 2019, 11:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Rio Rancho, 3906 19th Ave. SE.  Those wishing to remember Jim through memorial contributions may do so to the Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation, the Lewy-Body Dementia Foundation or Alzheimer Association  

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