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Norman Cleaveland


He was born on 4th April 1901 in California , the only son of Newton Cleaveland, a Mining Engineer and noted western author Agnes Morley Cleaveland. He grew up on his family's ranch outside of Datil, New Mexico. His parents met while students at Stanford where Norman was later educated and graduated with a degree in Mining Engineering.


Above his mother Agnes Morley Cleaveland


He was known as ' Peabody ' by his teammates, because that was what he called everyone else, he stayed on in France after the rugby concluded in order to attend the rest of the games.


Above Norman at Stanford University in 1924


He played twice for the USA at rugby in the 1924 Olympics, in the round robin v Romania when he scored a try in the 37-0 win and in the final against France when they won 17-3. The squad had to raise $20,000 to go to the Olympics


Above the USA squad training in England before Olympic Games in Paris . Photo taken at Plymouth Rugby Club. Back Row (L-R): Sam Goodman (Manager), Valentine, Cashel, Williams, B, Slater (Cpt), Farish, Clark, Patrick, N. Slater, DeGroot, Charles Austin (Coach) Middle Row: Graff, Turkington, Deveraux, Mannelli, Doe, Cunningham, Dixon . Front Row: Rogers, Hyland, Hunter, O'Neill, Cleaveland, Muldoon, Scholz.


A crowd of 40,000 booed and hissed the Americans throughout the 17-3 win against France and rioting forced the USA side to escape from the field when it was over. That was the last year rugby was played as an official sport in the Olympics.

''They had a special tunnel for us to escape,'' Norman said in 1996. ''There were times when I didn't know if we'd make it.''

Norman Cleaveland did not receive his medal until two months after the victory because of the outraged crowd, which drowned out ''The Star-Spangled Banner'' during the awards ceremony.



Above the Skulls and Snakes at Stanford University in 1925 with Norman seated front extreme left.


Above Norman playing for Stanford in 1925


After University he began a long and respected career specializing in dredge operations.

During World War II he took a break from mining and served as an Army Air Corps pilot in the US and then immediately after the war in Korea and Manchuria as part of the United States Reparations Commission. 22 years of his mining career was spent mining tin in Southeast Asia, especially in what is now known as Malaysia eventually becoming President of the Pacific Tin Corporation. He played rugby for Perak in Malaysia from 1930-1932.

After his retirement from mining, Norman wrote and edited three books. His first, written with George Fitzpatrick, was titled The Morleys - young upstarts on the Southwest Frontier and chronicled Norman 's maternal grandparents move to Northern New Mexico to participate in the management of the Maxwell Land Grant. Norman raised eyebrows with his assertion that his grandfather's death was not accidental but due to lingering animosity with a group known as the Santa Fe Ring over the land grab that occurred of the original land grant. 'Bang Bang in Ampang' published in 1973 concerned Norman 's time in Southeast Asia during the communist uprising known as the Malaya Emergency. Norman did not support the early British colonial approach to appeasing developing communist factions in Malaya in the late 1940s. Norman caused considerable consternation, including with the young Kennedy senators and Lyndon B. Johnson, when he re-armed local constabularies in order to protect themselves and his mining operations. Norman 's last literary effort was editing a book on the eccentric western faith healer Francis Schlatter, who was reported to have died in 1896. Titled The Healer: The Story of Francis Schlatter (Santa Fe, NM: Sunstone Press, 1989), it includes the text of The Life of the Harp in the Hand of the Harper, published by Norman's grandmother, Ada Morley, in 1897, detailing the healer's life and her conversations with him, as well as recollections of the event by his mother, Agnes.

Norman died at h is home on June 8, 1997, in Santa Fe , New Mexico , at the age of 96. He played rugby most of his life and was a life member of the Santa Fe Rugby Club. He was the last surviving of the USA rugby Olympic gold medallistís.



© Patrick Casey, 2011
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