Cleo R. Bartlett was born in September 1926 in Fulton County, Arkansas. He was the son of Andrew and Alma Shelton Bartlett and spent his childhood on a farm between St. John and Stafford. He attended Stafford schools, graduating with the class of 1943 at the age of 16. The summer after graduation he attended Sterling College, received an emergency WWII teaching certificate, and began his forty plus years of educating young people. In 1944 he was drafted into the U. S. Navy.
Following military service, he continued his education at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1949. He completed his Masters at the University of Wyoming. Cleo returned to Kansas and taught two years at Ellsworth before coming to St. John where he was to remain, serving as a teacher, high school counselor, and his last 26 years as St. John High School principal. He retired in 1988 having served 42 years in Kansas education.
Cleo married Darlene Ring at the St. John Methodist Church in 1951, and this became their church home for the remainder of their lives. Cleo served as a Sunday School teacher, on the Administrative Board, as Lay Leader, and as a member of the choir, Methodist Men, and the Prairie Crooners. He was a past president of the St. John Lions Club; Past Regional President of the Kansas Personnel and Guidance Association; and Past President of the Kansas High School Principals’ Association as well as a member of the Ida Long Goodman Library board, the St. John Beautification Committee and the Cornwell Scholarship Committee. He was an active member of the I.O.O.F. Lodge #539. Cleo’s avocation was his music, and he was known for his beautiful tenor voice. One of the joys of his retirement years was singing with the Mennonite Men’s Chorus and the Lindsborg Messiah.
Cleo is survived by his daughter, Suzanne McKaig (Patrick), Wichita and daughter-in-law Debby Bartlett, Overland Park; grandchildren Jessica Janzen (Eric), Dallas; Benjamin McKaig (Danielle), Pawtucket, RI; Preston Bartlett, Kansas City; Kyleigh Bartlett, Overland Park; Ryan Bartlett, and Cameron Bartlett, both of Jacksonville, FL; two great-grandchildren Parker Bartlett and Benjamin McKaig, Jr. He is also survived by his brother Vernon and wife Olive, St. John; and sisters-in-law Barbra Ring Atterbery, Tribune; and Mary Lou Padilla Ring, Gilbert, Arizona, as well as many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife, Darlene, his son, Douglas, by his parents and his brothers, A.C. and Vonnie, and Steve Bartlett, nephew.
His life was devoted to helping young people develop their skills and abilities to their fullest potential, and joy came when he saw them succeed and become contributing adults. A Celebration of Life service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on November 15th at the United Methodist Church in St. John with Reverend Kim Andrews presiding. Please consider wearing a mask if unvaccinated.
Memorials may be made to the St. John United Methodist Church Memorial Fund, Geneva College or the Mennonite Central Committee Relief Fund, all in care of Minnis Chapel, 526 E. 4th Ave, St. John, Kansas, 67576.