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Merle L. 'Van' Van Cleve
(March 12, 1922 - March 31, 2010)

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Merle L. 'Van' Van Cleve

Merle L. ‘Van’ Van Cleve, age 88, of Ashland, Wisconsin, passed away on Wednesday, March 31, 2010, at the Memorial Medical Center, in Ashland.

Van was born, on March 12, 1922, in Ocheyedan, Iowa, the son of F. Herman and Marie (Geronsin) Van Cleve. He was a U.S. Navy, WWII, veteran serving in the South Pacific, including Iwo Jima and Okinawa. On June 30, 1946, he was united in marriage to Bessie Brooks, at Mankato, Minnesota.

He was a Golden Glove boxer, during the Depression, boxed professionally for two years, and graduated from Mankato State Teacher's College, with a degree in health and physical education. After teaching high school health, physical education and English, for two years, he became a sales manager for Alcoa, the makers of Wear-Ever cookware, moving to Des Moines, Iowa, and retiring, in 1990, after 42 years with the company.

Van never met a stranger, and counted many long-time friends as members of his extended family.

He and Bess moved to Bella Vista, Arkansas in 1998. He was a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church, a member and supporter of the Des Moines YMCA, and was very active in the Lions Club, in both Des Moines and Bella Vista. Van played tennis and golf into his early 80’s.

Survivors include: his sons, Jerry (Monica), of Ashland; Jim (Claudia Strauss), of Claremont, California; Tom (Estella), of Tucson, Arizona; and Bill, of Ankeny, Iowa; seven grandchildren; one brother, Roger, of Des Moines, Iowa; and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by: his parents; his wife, Bess, on FebruARY 22, 2008; four brothers; and one sister.

A Memorial Service for Van will take place, in Bella Vista, Arkansas, at a later date.

Memorials may be made to YMCA of Greater Des Moines, 101 Locust Street, Des Moines, Iowa, 50313 (

Our Ashland Chapel will be assisting Merle’s family with his memorialization.


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