Scott James Cleland
March 19, 1951 – February 8, 2011
My brother Scott died of lymphoma. His husband showed tremendous care for Scott over the years and particularly at the end. As a medical professional, he saw to it that Scott had the best possible medical care. They traveled the world together, created and admired art, and recorded for posterity “The Alphabet Adventure of Scott Cleland
.” It was Scott’s life’s work, and combined his passions of acting, history, art, and calligraphy.
Scott acted in many high school plays, including a wonderfully zany character in “The Fantastiks.” He brought down the house as Big Daddy in “Sweet Charity” – the only play all three of my older siblings were in together. Scott was the oldest of the five siblings. Ten years younger, I was the fourth, and was impressed and inspired by his performances and awards.
He went on to get a theater degree from the University of Minnesota. He performed at Stagecoach and Peppermint Tent, and traveled to Washington, D.C. to perform “365 Days,” a play about the Vietnam War. He was an extra in the original movie “Heartbreak Kid” and had a speaking role, saying, “Hi Kelly” to Cybill Shepherd. I was actually an extra for a play in one of Scott’s acting classes: I played a deceased child and they dragged me in on a sheet.
Scott loved the Renaissance Festival, and it was there that he learned calligraphy. He was always making banners, posters, etc. for us, and he taught us the basics, as he did for his many students over the years. He collected goose feathers to be used as quills, assisting in the production of the St. John’s Bible, and met in association with the calligrapher to the Queen of England.
Scott did sculpting as well as two-dimensional art, and had other hobbies such as beekeeping and exotic pet pheasants. One year they hosted us for Christmas and he scattered corn in their wooded back yard, attracting exactly nine deer, the same number used to pull Santa’s sleigh.
On Christmas Eve growing up we would sing Christmas carols, and it was by listening to Scott that I learned how to harmonize. Scott also had a quick wit and great sense of humor. If I manage to say something funny there’s a good chance it’s thanks to my brothers.
He was great with the nieces, doing spontaneous things like “foot claps” and “knee slaps.” He would give my son rides to family dinner, saving me a 72-mile round trip.
Scott knew architecture. He would point at a building and explain the “egg and dart” pattern there. When I was depressed in 1990, he took me to the museum, which helped me to eventually snap out of it. In 2004, he took Mom to London, where they toured royal palaces, Bath, and Stonehenge.
Scott also inspired me politically. During his college years, I remember him telling us about a protest on campus with teargas and how he had to run between two buildings. Years later, he told a story about how he was in another city, marching in one of the first Gay Pride parades, somebody giving him a banner to hold, being on national TV, and worrying about it, because it was before he came out in 1982. As an activist, I would sometimes march in our Minneapolis GLBT Pride parade, and I ran into Scott a couple times while I was there, and he appreciated my involvement.
With Scott, there is so much, I’m sure I’m leaving out something important. This is just what comes to mind today. Rest in Peace, dear brother. We love you.