Dr. L. Graydon Cloud departed this world on January 20, 2022. Graydon was born in Lakeland, Florida, on September 27, 1922, the youngest son of Talley Alexander and Edna Lois Reddick Cloud. From an early age, Graydon loved sports, the outdoors, and cowboys. He grew up on Bay Street in Lakeland.
Graydon attended Lakeland Senior High School from 1936 to 1940 where he played both JV Destroyer and Varsity football for the Dreadnaughts. Known as “Tiny Mite,” he captained the 1939 Dreadnaught team, playing quarterback and linebacker. Following high school graduation, he joined the United States Navy, was posted to Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, and trained as a hospital corpsman. Following Pearl Harbor, he was assigned to the USS Memphis, a light cruiser and flagship of the South Atlantic Fleet. In January 1943, the cruiser flew President Franklin Roosevelt’s flag off Bathurst, Gambia, during the Casablanca Conference. The President and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill outlined plans at that time for the invasion of Sicily and Italy.
After more than 3 years’ continuous active service on the Atlantic, the Navy decided to send Graydon stateside to train to become a doctor. He attended Emory University in Atlanta, then attended the University of Tennessee Medical School in Memphis, graduating in 1947. While attending medical school, he met the love of his life and the lady who would become his wife, Bettie Jean Montgomery. “Beanie” graduated Methodist School of Nursing after graduation from Whitehaven High School. At the time, nurses in training could not marry. So Graydon & Bettie eloped to Hernando, Mississippi. The married couple returned to Memphis, sworn to secrecy, until they graduated.
Almost a decade after he left Lakeland, Graydon and Bettie returned to his hometown to practice medicine in 1949. The two worked together as doctor and nurse. Before he and Bettie could raise a family, Graydon was called back into active service, this time in the United States Air Force. For two more years, Graydon served his country as a captain in the Air Force at MacDill AFB. During his time, their first son, William Graydon Cloud was born. Another son, Thomas Alexander Cloud, followed in 1954. A daughter, Cynthia Ann, was born in 1956.
While serving as a general practitioner, Graydon discovered he enjoyed delivering babies. To be able to perform Cesarean sections, he and Bettie decided to move to her hometown of Memphis to train at John Gaston Hospital as a resident physician to become an obstetrician and gynecologist. Graydon joined Clarence Anderson in 1960 in Lakeland as a newly minted OBGYN, practicing for the next 42 years. He participated in the delivery of over 9,000 central Floridians during his career.
Graydon and Bettie also acquired a grassless tract of mined out phosphate land in the Lakeland Highlands and turned it into the Flying Cloud Ranch. They raised their three children and numerous horses. If something needed building, Graydon built it. He shared stories of his childhood and youth with his children, teaching them the ways of the ranch but encouraging them in their own pursuits. He did the same for his six grandchildren.
His passions were raising horses, watching football, delivering babies, and his wife Bettie Jean. He was by parts doctor, Popeye the Sailorman, horse whisperer, carpenter, star athlete, husband, and father. He is survived by his three children, Bill (Bobbie), Memphis, Tom (Laura), Orlando, and Cindy (George), Tampa, six grandchildren, Amanda Georgoff, Matthew Cloud, Alex Cloud, Michael Cloud, Chris Cloud, and Chester Bedell, and 10 great grandchildren. He is gone to be with his wife Bettie somewhere between that hollow log by the side of the road and the Big Rock Candy Mountain.
Visitation Thursday, January 27, 2022, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Tribute Center at Heath Funeral Chapel, 328 S. Ingraham Avenue, Lakeland, FL 33801, with services Friday, January 28, 2022, at 11 a.m. at First United Methodist Church, 72 Lake Morton Drive, Lakeland, FL 33801. Interment to follow at Lakeland Memorial Gardens, 2125 Bartow Road, Lakeland, FL 33801. Condolences may be sent to the family at Heath Funeral Chapel.
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