Jack Phelps Cleveland

June 9, 1934 – December 14, 2020


image of Jack Cleveland

Jack Cleveland

Jack Cleveland had a smile that lit up any room he entered.

Jack was born on June 9, 1934 in Flint, Michigan to parents Jack and Lydia (Phelps) Cleveland.  As a young boy, Jack lived in Flint and Marion, MI.  He had many fond memories of his bucolic life on the farm in Marion, which he attributed to the fact that he was too young to have to do any difficult chores.   He made up for that later, and was a diligent and hard worker in all of his endeavors.  His favorite chore was cutting wood, earning him the family moniker “Chainsaw Jack.”

Jack graduated from Flint Central High School and then served in the U.S. Army from 1955-57 as Specialist 3rd Class at Ft. Benning, GA.   He returned to Michigan to attend college.  Jack had a beautiful tenor voice and earned extra money by singing for weddings.  One fateful day he met his appointed organist, Camille Ann; they were married soon thereafter and the made beautiful music together during their long and happy 62-year marriage.

Jack earned his Bachelor’s, Master’s and Educational Specialist degrees from Eastern Michigan University.  Since 1969, Jack worked at the Saginaw Township School System where he was a principal at Weiss, Chippewa, White Pine, and Sherwood, and also as Assistant Superintendent of Instruction.  Jack was honored to be chosen as regional president of the Michigan Association of Elementary and Middle School Administrators in 1978.

Jack loved children and made learning fun and memorable.  His visits to classrooms as George Washington in full costume were an annual hit, as well as his Robin Hood character at White Pine where he planted the school’s “Sherwood Forest,” not to mention volunteering to serve in the pie-in-the-face booth at the school fair, which helped raise money and community goodwill. Jack established a sister school relationship between Saginaw Township Schools and a school system in Taipei, Taiwan.  He led delegations to Taipei in 1980 and 1982 to strengthen international relations between the schools.

Jack’s tremendous dedication to community service and the breadth of his volunteerism was admirable.  He was president and then long time fund-raiser for the Saginaw Township Community Schools’ Foundation.  He loved to golf (achieving 3 holes in one during his life!) and was a board member of the Germania Town and Country Club.  He was Chairperson for the Saginaw Symphony Youth Concerts and a delegation leader for Youth People to People trip to Australia and New Zealand in 1995.

Saginaw Township Parks and soccer were both foremost in Jack’s life.  He was elected to the Saginaw Township Parks and Recreation position from 1996 – 2017.  He was a women’s soccer coach for 13 years, for both the Can-Amera games and travel teams.  He also was on the Board of the Can-Amera Games, and was Facilities’ Chair of the McCarty Soccer.

Jack was a charter member of Rotary Club of Saginaw Valley.  He joined in 1976, served as President, and was elected a Paul Harris Fellow in 1990.  In 2014 he was awarded the Heroes for Sustainer Award.

Jack was a great storyteller and enjoyed a good laugh. One of his favorites was how the family dog, Ben, ran after a bear that took refuge in a tree during a family camping trip in Canada.  Soon they realized that Ben had chased a baby bear, and the Mama Bear who suddenly appeared wasn’t too pleased.  Jack managed, with great effort and a cool head, to get Ben and the family out of harm’s way, and live to tell the tale.

Following his retirement in 1995, Jack and Camille continued to travel, eventually visiting over 20 countries and enjoying Road Scholar educational trips in the United States.  Jack became a master woodworker and dedicated himself to growing beautiful dahlias in his flower garden.  They became snowbirds in New Smyrna Beach, FL where they welcomed their grandchildren for sunshine visits.

Jack was a faithful member of Second Presbyterian Church where he sang in the choir and served as trustee and elder.

Jack and wife Camille moved to Kirkland, WA in the summer of 2020.  He is survived by his wife, Camille Ann and two daughters and five grandchildren:   Camille Jo (Brian) Smith and Jill (John) Gregg and five grandchildren:  Scarlett Camille French (Max), Spencer Cleveland Smith, Helena Camille Gregg, Jackson M. Gregg and Truman M. Gregg.  He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and will be greatly missed.

Well done, good and faithful servant, for a life well lived!

For those wanting to make a donation in honor of Jack’s life, please consider Second Presbyterian Church at 2665 E. Midland Road, Saginaw, MI 48603, or the Rotary Club of Saginaw Valley at P.O. Box 6161, Saginaw, MI 48603.



28 Responses to “Jack Phelps Cleveland”

  • Ed & Lorrie Higgins says:

    Ed and I are so sorry for your loss. The tribute was wonderful. It looks like you had a wonderful marriage and life. I am glad you are with your family but we miss you. Stay safe.

  • Cynthia Andrews says:

    Camille: I am so sorry for your loss. I enjoyed meeting Jack, he was a nice man. Very nice tribute, what a great time he had on this earth! You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.


  • Elizabeth Hales says:

    Mrs. Cleveland, I am so sorry to hear this. I still remember Mr. Cleveland coming over to my grandparents house to talk with me about middle school. I was pretty nervous about going into 5th grade! 🙂 Jack even gave me a tour of the building, and made sure I knew where I was supposed to go. (Plus, I also remember your lemon cake. I think Grandma Elaine used your recipe a few times!) He was a good man. – Elizabeth

  • Carol Brasseur says:

    Dear Camille and family. Ron and I were so sorry to hear of Jack’s passing. He will truly be missed and a big emptiness in all your hearts.
    Although we did not see you much after the soccer years, you were a very part of our lives for many years and you both contributed to help form our dear daughter, Julie, to the wonderful person she has become. May God be with you all at this most difficult time. Our love, Carol and Ron Brasseur.

  • Connie Murdoch says:

    So sorry for your loss. I have such fond memories of Jack. May God keep you in HIS care.

  • Lynn Seidman says:

    Dear Sweet Camille, Brian, Scarlett, Max and Spencer,
    We are so sorry for your loss of such an amazing
    Dad, husband and Grandpa. We wish we could hug on you all but know that we are thinking of you and send so much love and virtual hugs until we are together hopefully very soon.
    Love Always,
    Lynn and Michael Seidman & Family

  • Cathy Pfund Doughty says:

    I have so many fond memories of Coach Cleveland. He was a great man, always unselfish with his time and energy. He had a big impact on me and so many others. Please know your family is in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Nathon & Kathryn Wilson says:

    Camille and family, we are so sorry to hear the news. Us and the Spagnuolo’s send our thoughts and prayers from Saginaw. Jack was a great guy and we are all blessed to have you guys be part of our lives. ❤️

  • Wally and Anne Schmidt says:

    Wally and I enjoyed knowing and spending time with you both. Jack was a wonderful man and he will be missed. Wally misses playing banjo with you Camille. Our condolences to your family.

  • THe Orley's says:

    Dear Cleveland/Smith family,
    We have such fond memories of dear Jack. I had no idea that he coached woman’s soccer….no wonder he was such a great cheerleader for our young soccer stars!
    I’ll never forget when he took George and Spencer on a fishing expedition. George talked about it for months. May he rest in peace and may you be comforted by all the warm memories.
    Sending love,
    Diane, Randy, Amanda and Sam

  • Jill Barber Wolf says:

    Camille, Jill and family, I was so sorry to hear about Jack’s passing. I have so many great memories of Jack as my coach. He was such a saint taking on a bunch of high school girls and driving us all over Michigan in the van. I can still picture him running up and down the sidelines during the games, kicking his leg as if he was kicking the ball right along with us. He holds a special place in my heart, as do you Camille and Jill. Wish I could be there in person to honor him. God truly blessed me with his presence in my life.

  • Doreitha Paeth says:

    Dear Camille and family,
    My deepest sympathy for the loss of Jack. He is gone,but not forgotten. He has left his positive impression on everyone he ever met. His influence on Saginaw Twp. is legendary. Rest in Peace Jack.

  • Carol Socha says:

    Jack Cleveland was a wonderful man to work for, and he was not only a friend but a mentor to me! When I headed up Career Technical Programs for the Saginaw Township Schools in the 1980’’s, Jack was always supportive, having me present programs at the Rotary Club, and hosting employers such as Saginaw Division of General Motors, Dow Chemical, and Dow Corning! He encouraged taking these employers out to lunch at Treasure Island and other local restaurants, etc., back in the day when there was enough in our budget! It was all about building relationships with schools and business and industry, and he was a huge proponent of establishing such for our students! I am so very proud to have had the privilege of working with Jack! Always smiling!! Always supportive!! Always doing his work with students first in his mind!! He certainly did a lot of living in so many realms of his life! My deepest sympathy, Camille, and to your entire family. May Jack rest in heavenly peace! Prayers and thoughts are with all of you, and may the Good Lord give you comfort and peace through this difficult time.

  • Hugh Matson says:


    I was saddened when I heard that Jack had passed. I met Jack while he was principal at one of his schools in Saginaw Township. He later became one of my bosses as an assistant superintendent, and I will remember him as he is depicted in all three obituary pictures and his video tribute (except his football photo), always smiling. Jack’s joyful demeanor brought out the very best in people. Jackie’s and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  • James Wineman says:

    Camille and family,
    As you know we feel the loss and sorrow of Jack leaving very much. He was so congenial and fun to hang out with. After being the best of friends for forty years we have many memories of trips together (30-35?), playing together in golf tournaments (winning it all one time) deer hunting (he and I never bagged a deer) going out to dinner (Railsplitter sandwich boredom) and many other memories. We hate the thought of having it ended. The four of us had the strongest of family values. No question there. We’ll miss him.

  • Wendy (propp) Graham says:

    Mrs Cleveland, Jill, and family, i am so deeply saddened by the loss of coach cleveland. He was a very selfless person who always was there for anyone. i will cherish the many memories with him on the soccer field and all the travels it entailed, as well as the many family times i was part of, like the florida trip Mr cleveland was a wonderful person and will be surely be missed. may you all find peace during this most difficult of times. love, hugs, and prayers❤️

  • Martha Olson Adams says:

    I was sorry to hear of Mr. Cleveland’s passing. He was a sweet and special man. I have the fondest memories of him as my principal at Weiss and to be honest he may have been my first crush as a kindergartener! He was also such a good friend to my parents and always greeted everyone with that larger than life smile. He will be remembered for so many things but for me I will always remember his kindness to a 5 year old! Rest In Peace Mr. Cleveland

  • Trish and Jim Boersma says:

    Jim and I totally enjoyed being in the company of Jack and Camille. They both lit up our lives. Camille: we are so sad to learn of Jack’s passing, but we know he will remain in the hearts of many people. What an amazing tribute!! He definitely was an awesome figure!!!

  • Patty Burnside says:

    Dear Camille
    I am so sorry to learn of your loss. I miss seeing you two at church. I especially miss hearing Jack singing the hymns in a pew nearby. May God’s peace help you through this difficult time. His obituary is quite a tribute to a life well-lived and shared with others. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Denise Kenny says:

    Dear Camille and family,
    I was so saddened to hear of Jack passing. I have such fond memories of our time at Sherwood Elementary. He was a wonderful principle and you’re right his smile and outgoing personality lit up a room. I’ll never forget him in his Robinhood costume for our Sherwood Forest theme at homecoming parade. Of course, we won best elementary float that year! He sure made an impact on so many lives during his years in education. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. May he Rest In Peace but his smile will never be forgotten.

  • Leslie and Tom Wimsatt says:

    Jack had such an impact on us and the lives of our children. What a great mentor, friend and arts advocate. His effervescent and joyous personality will be dearly missed!

  • Margie Collier says:

    So sorry to hear of Jack’s passing. I worked for Jack as an Administrative assistant when he was the Principal at Sherwood Elentary in 1994-95. Quite a memorable school year. He will be missed. Randy and I send our heartfelt sympathy to Camille and family. Rest in Peace Jack.

  • Terry grenell says:

    So sorry for your loss. He was special to family and friends. God Bless

  • Cindy Baillie (Sedwick) says:

    Camille and family,
    I am so sorry for your loss. I have several fond memories of Jack. I first met him when I was a student at White Pine Middle School. My mother Kathy Sedwick was a secretary there, I would go in to the school early with her and he would let me work in the front office to pass the time. He was always so kind, thoughtful and caring. I truly enjoyed being around him. He lived in the same neighborhood I grew up in and after getting to know him he would ask me to “house sit” for him and Camille when they would visit their daughters and when their daughter would visit, I would get to babysit their grandchildren Scarlett and Spencer. I absolutely loved watching them. I have always looked up to Jack and Camille and felt blessed to have been a part of their lives. I saw them last fall at a Heritage soccer game and was so pleased to have the chance to catch up and hear about their family. Thank you for the wonderful memories. You are in my prayers.

  • Jim & Marsha Eckerman says:

    Dear Camille and family,
    We were so very sorry to hear about Jack’s death. Know that he will be remembered fondly by many. He was a warm, cheerful, and kind man. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  • Jack Provenzano says:

    Jack was a special person with a strong and consistent personality. I will always remember him from the many Fordney Club meetings where Jack freely engaged in conversation with anyone at the table. Sincere condolences to you Camille and your family.

  • Ron &Lyda Jones says:

    Camille: Just searched the internet to find your phone, and discovered (painfully) that Jack has gone to a higher place. Wanted to tell you that Lyda passed away peacefully, in her sleep, on January 6th. We were blessed to have one final Christmas together (our 63rd) before she went to heaven. Lyda taught with Camille, so if anyone sees this who has contact with Camille, please have her call 989-837-3867.
    Love and the fondest of memories…
    Ron Jones

  • Janice Peterson Hanson says:

    Mrs. Cleveland, I have continued to think about Mr. Cleveland over and over since we received your Christmas letter and learned that he passed away in December. He was, indeed, a very special man who made the world a better place for many people. I am so grateful that he was my sixth grade teacher! His contribution to the goodness of my education and my life have carried through many years and continue today. I am so grateful! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as you move through this time.

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