Joe Cleveland Memorial Scholarship

Following the wishes of Jane Dunbar, who initially established the Joe Cleveland Memorial Scholarship Fund, the scholarship is frequently awarded to a fun-loving teacher with a sense of humor, qualities for which Joe was well known.

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Joe Cleveland

Remembering Our Special Friend

by Alice Joy Lewis

Warm-hearted, enthusiastic, funny, appreciative, inspiring, a supportive friend, a fine musician, a great teacher — these words are all descriptive of our long-time friend and colleague, Joe F. Cleveland.

Joe’s memorial service was a service of worship celebrating his life. The affirmation of faith and the predominant spirit of thanksgiving that blessed those in attendance at the service were particularly appropriate in remembering a man who was so fully “alive” that he invigorated all who came into contact with him!

The credentials and accomplishments of Joe Cleveland are considerable.

A native of Texas, he was a graduate of Texas Christian University and of the University of Colorado where he received an MA. He served in the 7th Army Symphony from 1957 to 1959. He founded the Dorothy Shaw Bell Choir in Fort Worth, Texas, where he was a member of the Symphony and of the Opera Orchestra.

Joe was most recently Professor of Music at Northeast Louisiana University and was director of music for the First United Methodist Church of Monroe. He had received the Distinguished Citizens Award from the city of Monroe and he was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award given by the Suzuki Association of Americas. He was honored as a Suzuki Chair holder by the American Suzuki Institute in Stevens Point, Wisconsin and he was a much sought after and dearly loved clinician at workshops and institutes across the nation.

As I think of my various experiences with Joe Cleveland, I remember how much I enjoyed being a colleague of his in a variety of teaching situations. He was genuinely appreciative of his colleague’s skills and ideas, and he was unabashed in expressing his appreciation!

An “idea man” himself, he was able to react creatively to any scheduling or logistic dilemma, always making the best of any situation.

I also remember the enthusiasm Joe stirred among parents of the students he taught in so many places around the country. Their words of praise and their smiling faces gave testimony to his ability to educate a group while teaching a single person — with good humor and extraordinary teaching skills.

I suppose most of all I remember the excitement of the children who were privileged to get to be in his classes. They had fun as they learned and how they loved this man who was sometimes “gruff,” sometimes tender, teaching so much more than “how to play the violin”!

I remember little tykes stretching beyond anything they’d done before to please him with fine position, and I remember advanced students playing under his direction and giving life to Dr. Suzuki’s words, “Music is a language of the heart without words.” I remember Joe as a family man. Jessica, Joey, Hallie, and John David were often with him as he taught summer institutes. He was proud of each of them and gave direction that showed his “tough” and abiding love. Their family performances as the Cleveland Strings were delightful and inspiring.

How thankful we all are — colleagues, parents, students and family, that we’ve known and been touched by Joe Cleveland.

American Suzuki Journal 12.3

Previously printed in American Suzuki Journal 12.3. Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 1984 Suzuki Association of the Americas, Inc.