Cover photo for Dr. Robert Cleveland's Obituary
Dr. Robert Cleveland Profile Photo
1943 Robert 2017

Dr. Robert Cleveland

September 11, 1943 — June 7, 2017

Following a brief, but courageous battle with cancer, Dr. Robert Lathrop “Bob” Cleveland, Jr., of Cazenovia NY, passed away on June 7, 2017 surrounded by the love of his children.

Bob is the son of the late Robert, Sr. and Irma (Leonard) Cleveland, and was also predeceased by his sister, Mary Anne. Bob was born on September 11, 1943 at Crouse Irving Memorial Hospital in Syracuse, NY.

Among his proudest accomplishments was raising his four children, Carey, Catherine, Cristi, and Christopher, each of whom survives. Together with their spouses, Terry Frobel, Eric Kuhn, and Carolyn Cleveland, Bob created many memories that will be cherished for a lifetime. He is also survived by eight grandchildren who fondly referred to him as Poppy; Dominic Butler, Natalie Frobel, Riley and Emmerson Kuhn, and Lauren, Cameron, Addison, and Maren Cleveland.

Bob spent his formative years at Corning Free Academy where he was an exceptional athlete lettering in three sports: football, basketball, and track. He was inducted into the Corning-Painted Post Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988. Following his graduation from high school, Bob attended SUNY College at Cortland where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1965. While at Cortland Bob was a two sport athlete in track and basketball. The latter, the sport he was most passionate about, he earned his letter in after four years on the team. There he also met his first wife and the mother of his four children, Dr. Antonette Cleveland. In 1970, Bob received a Master of Science in Education from Syracuse University. He continued his pursuit of advanced degrees at Syracuse University, earning his PhD in 1973.

Bob began his teaching career in 1965 as a physical education teacher in Northville, NY. In 1973, he began his tenure as the Superintendent of Schools at New York Mills Union Free School District, moving on in the same position in Middleport, NY at the Royalton-Hartland School District. In 1980, Bob moved his family to Norwich, NY where he settled into a 20-year career as the Superintendent of Schools. “Dr. Bob,” as he was fondly called by many, spent this period of his professional career devoted to creating a school system that would become a lasting testament to his legacy. He was equally as comfortable in the weight room as he was in the school board room. He was a steadying presence throughout the school district and the community. It was not uncommon to see Bob at athletic events, school performances, wandering the halls of the district school buildings, or enjoying pizza on Friday in the high school cafeteria. Whether a community member, cleaner, teacher, cafeteria staff, bus driver, parent, or fellow administrator, Bob treated everyone with respect, fairness, and dignity. He valued the role of each and every member of the school district, and believed in the potential of every student. He demanded the best and held all accountable.

Bob demonstrated his philosophy of others before self through his volunteer service on the Norwich YMCA Board of Directors, the Norwich Rotary Club, Chenango County Historical Society, Chenango County Youth Bureau, and the Broad Street United Methodist Church.

Bob was an avid sports fan and supporter of athletics at all levels and in all arenas. He was a prolific reader of books, magazines, and at least three newspapers each day. He was a lover of nature, camping, and any activity on, in, or near the water. One of his favorite sayings was, “The happiest day of my life was when I bought a boat, and the happiest day of my life was when I sold a boat.” Over the course of his lifetime, Bob bought and sold many boats.

If you were fortunate to call Bob a friend, you were blessed. Few friends were as true or steadfast in their loyalty as was Bob. The generosity of his spirit will live on through the lives he touched. He was humble and kind and quietly devoted to his faith and spirituality. He gave freely of himself for the betterment of those around him. At times Bob was a man of few words, but for certain one always knew where they stood with him.

He enjoyed the Great New York State Fair and was proud of his 46-year consecutive attendance record. Bob became a great cook by necessity, not by choice, he liked to say. After finally retiring in 2000, Bob returned to his childhood roots, enjoying several years creating memories with his family on Keuka Lake. It was by the water that he was most at peace. Ultimately, he died as he lived, on his own terms.

A memorial service for Bob will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 15, 2017, at the Broad Street United Methodist Church, in Norwich, NY. Friends are invited to call at the Wilson Funeral Home, Norwich, NY, on Wednesday, June 14, from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. A private burial will take place at the convenience of the family at Manlius Village Cemetery.

Contributions in memory of Bob may be made to the Food Bank of Central NY, 7066 Interstate Island Road, Syracuse, NY 13209, or to the Norwich High School Athletic Department, c/o Robert Cleveland Memorial Fund, 89 Midland Drive, Norwich, NY 13815.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Robert Cleveland, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

5:00 - 8:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Starts at 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

Broad Street United Methodist Church

74 North Broad Street, Norwich, NY 13815

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