Cover photo for James Powell Van Cleave's Obituary
James Powell Van Cleave Profile Photo
1933 James 2024

James Powell Van Cleave

March 5, 1933 — February 17, 2024



James Powell Van Cleave, 90, of Diamondhead Mississippi, passed away to eternal life on Saturday, February 17, 2024.  He is survived by his wife Betty; by their six children; Cindy Austin (Dan), Tom (Suzie), Robert Gallinghouse, William Gallinghouse (Kim), Nancy Evars (Scott), Claire Gallinghouse; 19 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.  He was preceded in death by his first wife, Nancy, and son, Tim.

Jim was born in Strayhorn, Mississippi in a shack with no central heating, plumbing or electricity. His early childhood taught him to be adaptive with little material possessions and constantly moving between Mississippi, Michigan, and Texas as his father (James Ewing) looked for work during the Depression.  However, he had a love for reading which was inspired by his mother (Lillian).

His teenage years exposed Jim to adversity when he contracted Polio.  He told us of a life-changing event when he visited an iron lung patient while in the hospital that gave him purpose to live on instead of being depressed with “why me”.  He was able to finish high school but did not think about college as a possibility.

Jim rediscovered his interest in learning as others began to change his perspective on college as an option which led him to be a full-time worker and full-time college student for eight years.  While in school he married Nancy Baker in 1954 and parented three kids. He earned an undergraduate degree in 1957 and a Masters degree in 1959 from Western Michigan University along with a PhD at Michigan State University.  Each job, Jim gained a new skill along with a desire to learn comprehensively in all areas of studies and to succeed as a business consultant traveling extensively to all parts of the world.   

However, another poignant event in Jim’s life was when Nancy contracted ALS in 1995, requiring him to be a full-time caregiver to her for the following 3 years.  He finished his career as an entrepreneur running businesses and developing more than 30 patents.

Finally, Jim rekindled a love in his heart when he married Betty Gallinghouse in December 2020. Reflecting on their lives, both Jim and Betty started out in humble dwellings but found each other late in their lives combining two loving families.

During his life, Jim’s faith and devotion to his family continued to grow as his reach and influence on family and friends was wide.  He left a video of his legacy with a message to all that Family, Friends, and Faith are the cornerstones to an abundant and happy life.  

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, February 23, 2024, at 10:00 AM at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 9062 Kiln-Delisle Road, Pass Christian, MS 39571.

Riemann Family Funeral Home, Pass Christian, is honored to serve the Van Cleave family. 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Powell Van Cleave, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, February 23, 2024

Starts at 10:00 am (Central time)

Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church

9062 Kiln Delisle Rd, Pass Christian, MS 39571

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