Cleon Virgil Ryland Sr. aka “Butch” was called home to be with the lord after 81 blessed years of life on the morning of May 20, 2022. Cleon Sr. was born and raised in the town of Cotton Plant, in Woodruff County, Arkansas on November 15, 1940. Cleon Sr. was the second child, and eldest son of seven children, born to the late Horace and Tebitha Ryland. Cleon Sr. received his schooling at the Cotton Plant grammar school and went on to graduate from Cotton Plant Vocational High School in 1959.
Cleon Sr. was drafted into the US Airforce on July 10, 1963, in his early twenties. As an Airman, Cleon Sr. was a Jet Engine Mechanic and was stationed in New Hampshire, Guam and California. He served his country during the Vietnam Conflict. While assigned to the base in Guam, the base was bombed shortly after Cleon Sr. vacated that location. It was a close encounter but from that moment, Cleon Sr. knew he was destined to accomplish more things in his life. Cleon Sr. was honored and recognized by the Airforce for his honorable service with several medals. He received the Outstanding Unit Award, National Defense Service Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal. Cleon Sr. received an honorable discharge on July 9, 1969, after four years of service with the Air Force and two years of service in the reserves. Cleon Sr. may not have talked much about his time in the Air force, but he was proud to be a veteran.
Cleon Sr. moved to Boston in the late 60’s, where he called home for over thirty years. During his tenure here, he first met and married Edna Mae Herbin. From this union were born three lovely children and he gained two wonderful stepchildren. While in Boston, Cleon Sr. worked for the Gillette Corporation as a Process Engineer. After separating from his previous union, Cleon Sr. met Larelle Bryson while working at Gillette. They spent many years in a union, where three lovely children were born. Cleon Sr. remained in this union until he left Boston and returned to Arkansas in the late 90’s.
Cleon Sr. later retired from Gillette after 31 years of service. Cleon Sr. was genuinely a self-made man, working his way from the field to management within the organization. Cleon Sr. was a problem creator but an even greater problem solver. He often tackled difficult and undesired projects both at work and at home. You would often find him renovating something at the house or under the hood of one of his beloved Cadillacs. That man loved his Cadillacs!
In 1989, Cleon Sr. was honored by the Greater Boston’s YMCA Black Achievers Award Program for his success in professional and community endeavors. He stayed involved in community activities over the course of several years. Cleon Sr. was known as an avid athlete, spending much of his past time at the ball field playing softball or participating in various bowling leagues. He was strongly affiliated with the Roxbury/North Dorchester Community Softball League, where he spent many summers playing softball at Washington Park, even serving as the league’s commissioner for six years.
Some knew Cleon Sr. as dad, grandad “pop pop”, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend. However you knew him, Cleon Sr. was always true to himself. He is truly someone that lived life his way. Cleon Sr. was blessed with a large and loving family. He often had a tough time expressing his love, but Cleon Sr. cherished his family and maintained a close relationship with his siblings. They all have their own unique personalities, but they love each other very much.
Cleon Ryland Sr. is preceded in death by Edna Mae Ryland, Teasia Montgomery, Jerry Lynne Ryland aka “Tina”, and Donald V Herbin. Cleon Sr. leaves behind to cherish his memory ten children: Cecilia Mims, Kenneth Ryland Sr., Victor Ryland, Vernell Ryland, stepson Daran Herbin, Tanesha Ryland, Cleon V. Ryland Jr., Keona Ryland, Damara Reid, and Ariana Ryland-Reid; 16 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. In addition, Cleon Sr. leaves to cherish his memory two sisters: Gwendolyn Clark and Daisy Badie; three brothers and sisters-in-law: Willie Ryland (Evelyn), Willard Ryland (Angela) and Larry Ryland (Thelma); as well as a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
Butch's service can be viewed via Live Stream by clicking the link below.