"Bill" Cleveland, Sr.
Louisiana State Representative
for Acadia Parish
|Preceded by|| Angelos Chaisson|
N. C. Petitjean
|Succeeded by|| E. C. Frémaux|
Louisiana State Senator for Acadia and in first term St. Landry parishes
|Preceded by|| Edward M. Boagni, Jr.|
Guy C. Gardiner
|Succeeded by||Edwin Edwards|
|Born|| October 19, 1902|
Lena Station, Rapides Parish, Louisiana
|Died|| December 16, 1974|
New Orleans, Louisiana
|Resting place||Woodlawn Cemetery in Crowley, Louisiana|
|Spouse(s)|| (1) Willie Mae Dean Cleveland (divorced)|
(2) Patricia Williamson Cleveland (died 2010)
|Relations|| Pap Dean (nephew by marriage)|
|Children|| From first marriage:|
Willie Mae "Billie" Cleveland Fulkerson
|Occupation||Real estate developer|
William Jennings Cleveland, Sr., known as Bill Cleveland (October 19, 1902 – December 16, 1974), was a real estate developer from Crowley, Louisiana, who served as a Democrat lawmaker from 1944 to 1964, with service in both houses. Cleveland is best known for having been defeated in his bid for a third term in the state Senate by fellow Crowley Democrat Edwin Edwards, an attorney who subsequently served less than two years in that body but in time became his state's only four-term governor.
From 1944 to 1956, Cleveland represented his adopted Acadia Parish in the Louisiana House of Representatives. From 1956 to 1964, he was a state senator for two terms from Acadia Parish. In the first term, he also represented neighboring St. Landry Parish.
Cleveland was a delegate to the 1952 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, which assembled the Stevenson-Sparkman ticket, which won the ten electoral votes of Louisiana that year. He was subsequently an alternate delegate to the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which also met in Chicago amid rioting and looting to nominate the Humphrey-Edmund Muskie ticket. However, the Louisiana electoral votes in 1968 went to George Wallace of Alabama on the American Independent Party ticket.
Cleveland was born in Lena Station in Rapides Parish in Central Louisiana. His first wife, the former Willie Mae Dean (1903-1973), was a daughter of F. B. Dean (1861-1927) and the former Florence Nugent (1863-1935) and a native of Colfax in Grant Parish, north of Alexandria. Willie Mae Cleveland was an aunt of the Louisiana cartoonist Pap Dean, affiliated for many years with The Shreveport Times.
The couple had three children, Willie Mae "Billie" Cleveland Fulkerson (1924-2009); William Cleveland, Jr., known as "Jennings"; and Ella Florence Cleveland, all deceased. Willie Mae Fulkerson, a member of the Christian Church, served for eight years on the Crowley City Council and was instrumental in having her city designated as the first "Tree City" in the state. She was a member of the Acadia Parish Democratic Executive Committee. In 1956, she traveled to Washington, D.C., and met with U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a member of the first Women's Congress of Housing. After her father's defeat, Governor Edwards appointed her to the Louisiana Prison Board.
After Cleveland and Willie Mae divorced, he married the former Patricia Jean Williamson (c. 1930-2010). They had a daughter, Doris Anne Cleveland Stark (born c. 1966) and a son, Thomas William Cleveland (1967-1982). Thomas was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and died at the age of fifteen in Kaplan in Vermilion Parish. Cleveland acquired a stepson, Patrick James Barber (born c. 1955), a St. Louis native who was as of 2004 a real estate developer in Gulfport, Mississippi. Barber described his stepfather, who was also in the construction business, as a devotee of a strong work ethic. When Patricia Cleveland died of a brief illness in the summer of 2010 in Dallas, Texas, her son, Patrick, and his wife, Stacey, and her daughter, Doris, and Doris's husband, Tim, were also living in Dallas.
Cleveland and his son Thomas are entombed in the mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery in Crowley. Willie Mae Cleveland and Willie Mae Fulkerson and her husband, Jack Martin Fulkerson (1918-2000), are interred at the same cemetery. Patricia Cleveland, whose obituary describes her as a devout Roman Catholic, is interred at Hillcrest Memorial Park in Dallas, Texas.
- William J. "Bill" Cleveland. findagrave.com. Retrieved on July 28, 2020.
- Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2024: Acadia Parish. Louisiana House of Representatives. Retrieved on July 28, 2020.
- Membership of the Louisiana State Senate, 1880-2024: Acadia and St. Landry parishes. Louisiana State Senate. Retrieved on July 28, 2020.
- "Acting Louisiana Governor W. J. "Bill" Cleveland," louisdl.louislibraries, accessed March 7, 2015; no longer available on-line.
- Cleveland, William J.. The Political Graveyard. Retrieved on July 28, 2020.
- Willie Mae Dean Cleveland. findagrave.com. Retrieved on July 28, 2020.
- "Willie Mae Cleveland Fulkerson Life Legacy," geesey-ferguson.com, September 15, 2009; obituary no longer accessible on-line.
- Patricia Jean Williamson Cleveland. The Dallas Morning News (August 19, 2010). Retrieved on July 28, 2020.
- Thomas William Cleveland. findagrave.com. Retrieved on July 28, 2020.
- Timothy Boone, "Barber Deserves an Encore, The Biloxi (Mississippi) Sun-Herald, May 19, 2004.
- Jack Martin Fulkerson. findagrave. Retrieved on July 28, 2020.