Cover photo for James Cleo Wilson's Obituary
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1926 Cleo 2024

James Cleo Wilson

October 3, 1926 — February 5, 2024


James Cleo Wilson, 97, of Independence, Mo passed away on February 5, 2024 surrounded by his loving family. James, who went by Cleo, was born October 3, 1926 to Clive and Erbie Wilson in Capps, Arkansas.
In 1943, Cleo joined the United States Navy to serve his country in World War ll. Underage at 17, his father gave required parental consent and drove Cleo to Harrison, Arkansas to enlist in the Navy at which time he immediately begin his term of Service. Cleo followed the lead of three uncles and an aunt into the Armed Forces.
Cleo began as a Deck Hand and taught himself the semaphore flag system and was soon promoted to Signalman-Second Class.  He served in Guam, in Okinawa and most notably in the flotilla that delivered the Third Marine Division to the final confrontation in Iwo Jima. He was aboard LST 241 at Iwo Jima in 1945 as he saw the flag raised on Mount Suribachi. Cleo briefly participated in the American occupation forces in Japan. Cleo received an Honorable Discharge at Angel Island, California in 1947.
Upon returning from the War, Cleo re-enrolled at Jasper High School to graduate on May 7, 1948. In the summer of 1947, Cleo was set up on a blind date by his best friend to meet the love of his life. At the age of 21 on December 1st, 1947, he married the beautiful Gleema Lee Johnson in Jasper, Arkansas. They went on to have four children: Dorothy Jean Getz (Robert Hancock), James David Wilson (Rebecca), Sheri Lynn Heriford (Don) and Steven Jeremy Wilson (Kelly).
In 1949, Cleo attended Chillicothe Business College. He was a member of the basketball team there. He graduated with a Telegraph Course certificate.
Cleo was a member of the United Transportation Union. He first worked for Frisco as a switchman. He retired in 1984 from Burlington Northern Railroad where he worked for 32 years as a brakeman.
Cleo enjoyed many activities throughout his life which included archery, fishing and camping. He was a faithful fan of the Kansas City Royals and the Kansas City Chiefs and any sport his children participated in. He often attended games, watched them at home on TV or listened on the radio in later years.
He is survived by his sister, Anna Mae Reynolds of Harrison, Arkansas, his four children, 6 grandchildren, 9 great grandchildren, 6 great great grandchildren as well as many nieces, nephews and their children. 

Private Full Military Honors Burial was held Monday, February 12, 2024 at Mt. Washington Cemetery. 

Please join the family for a Celebration of Life honoring both Cleo and Gleema on Saturday, May 11, 2024, 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM at Maywood Baptist Church, 10505 E Winner Rd, Independence, MO 64052. The event will include a memorial fundraiser for Folds of Honor, Englewood Arts, and Maywood Baptist outreach ministry. 

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in their names to those organizations listed above. 
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Cleo Wilson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, May 11, 2024

1:00 - 4:00 pm (Central time)

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