Bob Cleveland, 94, died April 20, 2021 after a brief stay at Blue Ridge Hospice.
Bob was known to his life long and more recent friends at The Village at Orchard Ridge as a storyteller, and his life makes a great story indeed.
Bob was born August 21, 1926 in the village of Franklinton, Kentucky (pop~80), where his parents, Horace and Williebel Cleveland, taught school. Bob had an older brother, David. He attended the Franklinton Grade School and high school in nearby Pleasureville, (pop~350). Bob was sixteen years old when he graduated in 1943, and took over running the family farm when his father and brother joined the war effort.
Bob married Joanna Stivers September 5, 1948, and they soon moved to Pleasureville, Kentucky where he farmed livestock and tobacco on 317 acres until 1961. They had two children, Robert Jr. and Rosemary. Although busy with the farm and family, Bob was very involved with the community. At the age of 18, Bob was elected a director of the Henry County Farm Bureau and eventually served on the Kentucky State Farm Bureau. He was a director of the Pleasureville Deposit Bank and director of the Henry County Fair.
Bob served nine years as a supervisor of the Henry County Soil Conservation District and was designated a “Master Conservationist” for his application of conservative practices on his farm. He served the State Department of Conservation in Frankfort, Kentucky first as a field representative for the Division of Soil and Water Resources and then as Assistant to the Commissioner of Conservation.
The 1940’s and 1950’s saw a huge change in the way of life for rural Americans with the introduction of electricity in their communities. Bob not only witnessed this but took and active part in it, becoming a “Farmer Director” for the Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative when he was 21 years old. As such, he worked to convince his neighbors that electricity was worth the effort to acquire it and lobbied the legislature to pass bills to fund it. Bob did this so well, that the Electric Coop asked him to work for them, and in 1961 he left the farm in Pleasureville to become the Director of Administrative Services for the Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation.
Bob was known as a “thinker and doer” and in 1969 he was hired as General Manager of Colorado Rural Electric Association. After a successful four years in Colorado Rural Electric Association, he became the Executive Vice President and General Manager for North Carolina Electric Membership Corporative. Bob ended his career with Ohio Rural Electric/Buckeye Power Inc., serving as President/CEO from 1977 until his retirement in 1989. Throughout Bob served on numerous national committees in the rural electric program. He served as a director and Chairman of the Electric Power Research Institute.
Bob was preceded in death by his wife of 69 years, Joanna, and his son, Robert N. Cleveland, Jr. He is survived by his daughter, Rosie Schiavone and her husband, Daniel of Winchester, Virginia; eight grandchildren and thirteen great grandchildren.