The family requests that in lieu of flowers, a contribution be made to the
John Cleveland Memorial Fund
benefitting the Arizona Masterworks Chorale.

Please send any questions to

Dr. John Young Cleveland, of Scottsdale, AZ, passed away on February 12, 2023, at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix.  He is survived by his wife, Kathleen, and his brother, Bill Cleveland of Lynchburg, VA.

Born on October 1, 1947 in Washington, D.C., John earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree from Butler University in 1969, a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of North Dakota in 1976, and his doctorate (Ph.D.) in Public Administration from Arizona State University in 2000, where he was a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

John retired from the US Air Force in 1993 with the rank of Lt. Colonel, Regular Air Force, after more than 20 years of service.  He will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

After leaving the Air Force, he launched a second career working for the City of Phoenix Public Transit Department.  Upon retirement from the City of Phoenix, Dr. Cleveland became an educator and consultant in the field of civil rights law in public mass transit.  He founded Cleveland Civil Rights Consulting, LLC, in Scottsdale, where he developed and led training for the American Public Transportation Association and became a frequent expert witness in personal injury litigation cases.

John was a passionate, lifelong singer, a bass-baritone skilled in both classical and musical theatre repertoire.  He was a member of the professional Arizona Opera Company Chorus for 21 seasons, appearing in over 300 performances of 57 productions in Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff.  He was active in other choral and solo roles through 2022, with the Arizona Masterworks Chorale, Arizona Musicfest Chorus, MusicaNova Orchestra, Scottsdale Choral Artists, the Arizona Cantilena Chorale, and others.  His recital repertoire included arias and scenes from Italian, French, and English-language operas and Broadway shows.

Offstage, John served as the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) steward for the Arizona Opera Chorus for ten years.  Most recently he was Vice President and ADA Coordinator of the Arizona Masterworks Chorale.  Previously he served on the board of Musica Nova Orchestra, where he coordinated the Young Artists Concert Series giving performing opportunities to dozens of young virtuosos.

Skip to content