Gary Lee Cleaveland, 66, Mission Viejo, Calif., died on July 21, after a courageous seven month battle against an aggressive brain tumor.
Gary had a passion for life that reflected his favorite motto, “life is good.”
He was born Oct. 9, 1946 to Daren Lee and Pauline Anne Cleaveland in Wabash.
He was a Northfield graduate, and with a baseball scholarship, he went to Ball State University. He earned a degree in physical education while playing a year of semi-pro baseball.
Following his college graduation, Gary moved to southern California to begin his teaching career with the Anaheim Union High School District in 1968. He first taught at Ball Jr. High where he coached football and baseball, and then in 1980, he transferred to Loara High where he coached tennis and taught photography classes. In addition to mentoring students, Gary was also a valued mentor to new teachers.
He was honored as teacher of the year in his county. He had a cover photograph on a national magazine and was very proud that many of his students have become professional photographers and credit Gary for their love of the art.
Gary will be missed for his warmth and generous spirit, as well as his willingness to help others with any project large or small.
His wife Jeanette and his stepson Rory Barnette, Mission Viejo, Calif, survive him. He is also survived by three sisters, Suzanne Tyler, Speicherville; Beverly J. Kilander, Fort Wayne; and Cynthia L. (Darrell) Lambert, Bluffton; and by four nieces and 12 nephews.
He is preceded in death by his parents and his brother Hugh R. (Deborah) Cleaveland who died May 24, 2011.
Funeral services were held on Sept. 21, and there was a Team Gary Cleaveland walk at the Anaheim Stadium along with the Orange County Brain Tumor Association.
Preferred memorials are to the National Brain Tumor Society.