Cleveland Witherspoon, 86, a World War II veteran and a retired autoworker, died Saturday (Feb. 10, 2001) in Erie County Medical Center after a long illness.
Born in Manning, S.C., he came to Lackawanna with his family as a child. He attended Lackawanna schools and Buffalo School 41. He attended evening classes at Burgard Vocational, Buffalo Technical and Seneca Vocational high schools, studying machine shop and engine repair.
In World War II, he served in the Army on Saipan as a technical sergeant in command of heavy equipment.
After the war, he returned to his job at the General Motors Tonawanda Engine Plant as a production repairman. He worked there for 33 years, retiring in 1972.
In retirement, Witherspoon took up motorcycle riding. He often could be seen driving along local roads on his customized Harley-Davidson, which was distinguished by a spare tire he installed on the back.
A skilled repairman, he fixed washing machines, dryers, furnaces and almost anything else that had a motor. When he couldn't find a part, he sometimes made one in the machine shop in his basement.
He also was known for his inventions. He obtained a patent for a baby sled that featured wheels as well as runners. He also devised an automatic starter for his car and built a machine to assist in stair-climbing.
Witherspoon served as a special policeman for many years and was a member of the Buffalo Special Police Benevolent Association. He was a life member of Bennett Wells Post 1780, American Legion, and a member of the Monarch Motorcycle Club.
Surviving are his wife of 61 years, the former Agnes M. Baugh; a daughter, Phyllis Lobbins of Buffalo; four sisters, Lucille Goodwin, Julia, Bernice Lucas and Susan Slaughter, all of Buffalo; and a grandson.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Thursday in Blessed Trinity Catholic Church, 317 Leroy Ave. Burial will be in Forest Lawn.