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  • John McCleary

    June 8, 1932 - May 16, 2016

    John Michael McCleary was born on June 8, 1932 in Shafter, CA.  He is the youngest of 6 children, born to Ralph and Anna Marie McCleary.  He left this world on May 16, 2016, at Auburn Valley Hospital, suffering from complications due to lung cancer, where he was being compassionately treated.  He was 83 years old; just shy of his 84th birthday.

    John is survived by 1 brother, Augustus (Gus) McCleary.  He is also survived by 7 children; Christina McCleary, Michael McCleary, Mark McCleary, Matthew McCleary, Patrick McCleary, Annie Neumiller and Virginia Shook.  John has many extended family (through the marriages of his children) that he has loved as his own children; Sammy Shook, Stephanie McCleary, Rebecca McCleary, Arman McCleary, Carrie McCleary and Efrat McCleary. He is also survived by his constant companion and long time friend, Alice Bailey, who brought much joy and love to John's life in his last years.  She has become part of the extended family; beloved by all of John's children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. From this large family, John and Nancy (who passed on 7/5/2011) have 15 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren...the McCleary Legacy will go on and on!

    Graduating from high school in Gresham, Oregon, John enter the Marine Corps and was involved in the Korean conflict.  After returning to Gresham, he married Nancy Carter and they started their own 'tribe' of little Irish clansmen/women to carry on his life mantra:

    'Learn what you need...Treat everyone as you would like to be treated yourself...Never look down on any person or job...Always put in a decent day's work'

    Words to live by!  John exemplified his words with actions and was a very positive person, who strived to be the best version of himself!  His high values were instilled in his children, who have tried to make him proud by living truthfully/faithfully/happily.

    John had several defining careers in his life.  He spent many years in automobile sales at Scarff Ford in Auburn and had a yery loyal customer base; he even received calls from former customers years after he started a new career.  He was also a manager for Person & Person Homes in Auburn from the late 70's into the 80's; supervising all facets of custom home construction, while fulfilling his love for construction detail that resulted in many happy home owners.

    John loved playing golf; hacking away many a Sunday morning with his cronies: Roger Durr, Ray Bascom, Keith Endersbe and Joe Poole.  Whenever asked how he played, he would invariably reply 'AWFUL'!!!  We, who loved and knew him, were aware of his sarcastic tendencies...especially when it came to his golf game!  He was in his element riding his John Deere lawn mower, clipping away at his 1+acre parcel of land on Lea Hill in Auburn.  Many times, he would appear with a blue bandana tied around his forehead like a headband, weeding, planting and beautifying the home he shared with his wife of 58 years, Nancy.  The family home was a haven for all his children and grandchildren; many a happy Sunday and holiday dinner were enjoyed by the McCleary clan and friends, while noisy youngsters were sent downstairs for the adult's sanity.

    John McCleary leaves this world a better place for his being here!  He was a simple, yet very complex character, who loved completely and anyone lucky enough to be in his circle knew this.  A quote from Shakespeare with Hamlet speaking of his deceased father reminds us of John.  It goes:

    'He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not see his likes again'

    Until we meet again...we will never forget you John/Dad/Grandpa!



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    • Reply June 17, 2016 - 16:33 PM posted by Michael McCleary

      Here is the Eulogy I presented at Dad's beautiful and moving Marine service today. It also seems fitting to me to include Mom's Eulogy from 5 years ago, so that they can rest side by side:

      Eulogy for John Michael McCleary
      (June 8, 1932 – May 16, 2016)
      Our father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, John Michael McCleary, was one tough son of a gun. He came from a family of six children, and his father, my own grandfather, Ralph McCleary, worked the oil fields and picked crops with migrant laborers in California in order to feed his family through the depths of the Great Depression. So Dad grew up no stranger to hard work. After high school, he became a proud Marine who did a tour of duty overseas in the Korean conflict. He never spoke much about his time in combat, but his Marine spirit transferred directly over to into our home: we learned early on what our duties in the house and the yard were, exactly how they were to be done, every time, without compromise.
      Dad worked really hard all his life. Whether he was delivering bread for Gai’s Bakery, selling Fords for Bowen Scarff in Auburn, building homes with Person and Person, or working for the Kent School District, Dad took pride in doing the best that he could at every task, an ethic he instilled in all his children. I believe that his approach to work has enabled us all to succeed in our own ways, and some of his rules (like making us clean the entire house before going on a vacation) seem to have become part of my own personal DNA—to this day , I hate to leave an untidy house. From my first job working in the bottle shed, Dad taught me that there is dignity and value in working hard with your hands, framing houses, mowing your own lawn, even digging ditches. Blue collar work is in many ways cleaner than many office positions, and Dad taught us to approach all work in the same way: learn what you need to do the job right, treat everyone you work with as you would like to be treated yourself, and always put in a decent day’s work.
      We grew up knowing that Dad had a temper, and we sometimes heard and felt the pressures and frustrations that he experienced in his years working so hard to support us. There were times when he would come home and simply long for a little peace and quiet—not something in great supply with seven kids underfoot. So he would lose patience and raise his voice, and we would often flee to our rooms for shelter. Thinking back on those younger days, a poem by Robert Hayden, “Those Winter Sundays” came to mind:
      Sundays too my father got up early
      And put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
      Then with cracked hands that ached
      From labor in the weekday weather made
      Banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

      I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
      When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
      And slowly I would rise and dress,
      Fearing the chronic angers of that house,

      Speaking indifferently to him,
      Who had driven out the cold
      And polished my good shoes as well.
      What did I know, what did I know
      Of love’s austere and lonely offices?
      Every parent here knows about those many daily tasks and duties, the hard work never seen by our children, all the “austere and lonely offices” that must be faithfully and consistently done over many years for the successful rearing of a family. So discipline there always was in our family, and sometimes it seemed unfair and even harsh, but behind it was the deep love of our father. I suspect that few here today can imagine what it was like for Mom and Dad to try to manage, not to mention maintain their sanity, with seven kids, seven hungry, energetic, often brawling or bawling children. Consider trying to deal with seven kids under the age of 10; at our full platoon strength, we nine McClearys filled more than half a pew at the Catholic churches we attended each Sunday. Dad’s insistence on order and cleanliness was, in many ways, the only means to stave off the total chaos we could quickly generate. Mom probably used our weekly library visits as a way to get a break from the noise level in our home, and that proved to be a blessing to us all—I know in me it nurtured my lifelong love of reading.
      Dad and Mom certainly did their part for the Baby Boom. Yet I think I can speak for all seven of us in saying that we never felt deprived of anything. We always lived in our own house, we made do with hand-me-downs (or rather, Mark, Matt, and Pat, and Annie and Ginny did). Whatever Mom could afford on Dad’s salary and commissions we often bought from the Montgomery Wards or Sears catalogs. We ate a lot of spaghetti and beans, we were all healthy and strong, and we had enough energy to pretty well exhaust both our parents on a daily basis. We shared rooms with our brothers and sisters for many years; a house with eight bedrooms was never really an option, nor did it ever seem a necessity to have your own room.
      One of Dad’s best qualities was his ability and readiness to talk to anyone, whether it was a customer on the car lot, a contractor on the construction site, or a priest like Father Bowman, whom he befriended and often invited over for a drink. Mom and Dad always had good friends with whom they would play bridge, go golfing, and even have dance parties downstairs in our basement. I remember going down in the morning after and sliding around on the soap flakes or whatever it was that they used to make the cement suitable for their slick dance steps. There may be nothing funnier than watching your parents dance, but it also was good for us to see our parents spending time and enjoying those close relationships. Some of them, like our dear Alice, were close to our family for many decades. We grew up knowing, playing, and celebrating holidays with our neighbors: with the Baileys and Donas on Scenic Hill in Kent, and then the Grennans and McClains on McDell Acres, as we called the plot of land where Dad and us boys ended up building three different houses over the years we spent on Lea Hill. Maybe because Dad and Mom had so many kids to deal with and just needed a break, we got to know these neighbors well. We all got excited on those weekends when Dad would pack us all into the wood-paneled station wagon and we would head out to “the land” for a day of running abound in the fields, playing in the barn, or hurting ourselves climbing out the windows of the old abandoned house on the property. Dad let the boys learn how to drive in the old red truck we shared with the Grennans, so in those years we were raised as a sort of local village, rather than just a large version of the nuclear family. We always had big picnics for the Fourth of July, and the doors of both family homes were generally open to kids from each.
      We also enjoyed going down to Gresham to “Gus and Maggie’s”, where we got to team up with our 6 cousins to run crazy, drink homemade root beer, and generally have a whale of a time. We had such great times in their big house with that wraparound porch perfect for skateboarding. Family vacations were a rare treat, since the logistics of taking seven kids on a camping trip in one vehicle were daunting, but etched in my memory is our joint family vacation with Gus and Maggie’s clan to the Losteen Mountains, where we caught a long string of trout and Mom actually rode an inner tube down the river. Preparing for such a trip involved, of course, cleaning the entire house thoroughly. Always, before we went on such family journeys, Dad would insist that all seven of us visit the bathroom; but inevitably, one of us would still have to go about halfway into the journey.
      Along with his love of his family, Dad also really loved animals. He was a proud Marine veteran, but also a veteranarian at heart. Our family’s connection to Pullman, Washington goes back farther than Shireen being a graduate of WSU—whenever I got too full of myself, Mom would remind me that I was conceived on a pig farm outside Pullman, where Dad was working and had arranged for them to live when he was enrolled in veterinary studies at WSU. He never finished his studies (probably due to the failure of the rhythm method of family planning), but Dad always made sure we had at least one dog as part of our clan when were growing up. I remember Mitsy when we were still on Scenic Hill, then our series of Labs, Tucker, Gus, Patty, Sootie, and finally Lucy, the little mutt Dad liked to crawl over to on his hands and knees and torment into a snarling frenzy. His affection for our family pets was a part of the man he was, and I know they certainly helped us as pets do, with their unconditional love.
      Many of Dad’s grandchildren here today are now proud parents, too, and your children are so fortunate to have had the chance to get to know their great-grandpa, who in his later years truly mellowed and learned to enjoy all his offspring’s little ones. You had the privilege of the hugging Grandpa who liked sitting and talking with his grandkids (and even succeeding in teaching a few of them to play cribbage). To me, Dad rarely said “I love you” out loud until later in life, but he had other ways of showing his love. Cheating and beating me up on our backyard basketball court was his way of showing how much he cared for me, and his laughter at my annoyance then warms my heart today. Dad had a mischievous and sometimes rude sense of humor, and a few Black Russians into the afternoon would loosen his tongue and get his Irish up. But as he grew older, he got gentler and became the grandfather and great-grandfather all our children and grandchildren came to love.
      Looking out at those present here today, I’m proud to say that my father was one of the most tolerant and unprejudiced men I’ve ever known. The McClearys now have a rich mix of Irish, Dutch, Mexican, African-American, Iranian, and Israeli genes in our extended family, and Dad always judged our mates and our childrens’ partners as Martin Luther King said we should, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Dad was a true American in his acceptance of difference, and he was solid as a rock in his commitment to honesty, fairness, and treating others decently, no matter what their origins or background. I know that he is looking down on us today and is immensely proud of the diverse and wonderful family he and Mom have founded.
      Inveterate reader that I am, I will conclude with a quote from Shakespeare. Hamlet, speaking of his deceased father to his friend, Horatio, says:
      “He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not see his like again.”
      We all miss you, Dad, and we will never forget you. You will live on in our hearts, in the memories of our children, and of their children as well.

      Semper Fi, John McCleary!

      For Nancy (Carter) McCleary
      (May 2, 1933 - July 5, 2011)
      I’d like to open with a beautiful poem from Shakespeare’s play, Cymbeline, one often quoted on the occasion of someone dear having passed:
      Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
      Nor the furious winter's rages;
      Thou thy worldly task hast done,
      Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages:
      Golden lads and girls all must,
      As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
      . . . . . .
      Quiet consummation have,
      And renowned be thy grave.

      Mom might not feel comfortable with the word “renowned”, and Lord knows she did not have much “quiet” in her life. But the crowd sitting here today is living witness to the tremendous energy of this small woman with the big ears and the much bigger heart, and in our veins run memories deeper than words.
      It’s hard for me to speak about my mother, because there are layers of regret I need to shed. I was farther from her, for so many years, than my brothers and sisters and our dear friends, and then she began to drift farther from us all. Thankfully, the rest of you were so much closer, and she had many good years filled with grandkids and great-grandkids on her lap, in her arms, some of them while sitting on those ridiculously unstable, suspended orange chairs around the kitchen table up in the house on Lea Hill.
      Mom had Ozzie’s wife, Harriet, and June Cleaver as TV role models, but they were American clichés that don’t fit the facts of her own life—and we probably more resembled the Simpsons than the Brady Bunch. Mom also had far too much work to do each day, too many spills to clean up, skinned knees to tend, bee stings to ease with that water and baking soda paste she swore by, vegetables on a boil that she forgot until they had lost most of their color. She had a truly daunting daily grind of “warshing,” cleaning, cooking, laundry, and refereeing a rowdy tribe of seven with no help in sight, until we got big enough to help ourselves.
      And you know what, Mom? You taught us to stand on our own feet at a very young age, to make our beds, clean our rooms, wash all the windows (inside and out), fix our own meals—in short, Momma, you gave us the skills and the knowledge that we could fend for ourselves. We learned the essential lessons that come from hard work that would be done right—or it would be done again. And that has been a source of strength for each and every one of us. We may not have always made the wisest choices in our lives, but none of us has ever balked at doing the most difficult, tedious, or distasteful kinds of work. We are the hard-working people we are because we had both Mom and Dad as models, and we simply do not give up—it’s not in our genetic code. We dressed in Montgomery Ward’s or J.C. Penney’s best, we wore hand-me-downs, and we held our heads high in Mass every Sunday because we were proud to be McClearys. We still are.
      Mom was not a very emotionally open person, perhaps due to her being next to the last of 13 kids in her own family. That’s the way emotional DNA gets passed from generation to generation, but Nancy Lee Carter McCleary was one extraordinarily devoted, determined, and conscientious mother. When she had 7 children under the age of 10, while we were living over on Hemlock Street in Kent, she still took in a foster baby, Neal. He stayed with us for four or five months, and when we were supposed to give him up, Mom tried to convince Dad to adopt him! That’s the way she was: nurturing quietly, keeping busy at the things that go unnoticed by kids and spouses alike, but those are the things that show most the strong, loving character of someone like our mother. All of us, her children, now know first-hand the exhaustion and sleepless nights involved in raising kids from diapers to diplomas. Mom did most of this work single-handed, and without Pampers, fast food, brothers and sisters, or grandparents close enough to take the burden off her shoulders, even for an afternoon.
      Mom did not complain much—even when she had her breakdown. As a totally self-absorbed teen, I don’t recall being that concerned that Mom was suddenly gone from the house. When Mom came back, I distinctly remember her saying that the therapists at the hospital had told her she needed to be more selfish. But Momma was no good at being selfish--no good at all. She kept putting in the endless hours of cooking, cleaning, wiping noses, nursing us through the family cycles of colds, flus, and mumps, forcing cod liver oil down our throats, making sure we got dressed for Mass each Sunday.
      When Ginny was old enough and the times demanded it, Mom went to work in the banking system, and made her way up to personal banker with clients of her own. I remember seeing in her a competence and pride in that job that made her really happy to go to work each day. I do not believe anyone at that job understood that, for Mom, her office and her clients were probably something of a vacation—or a long-delayed vocation.
      Many things stick in my mind, like the smell of butter in that black iron frying pan, and they are good indications of the person you were, Mom, a person I, as your son, never got to know nearly well enough:
      I remember you coming down the basement stairs to tell us boys that lunch was ready, then taking part in our “Sea Hunt” game by holding your breath and walking very slowly across the cement floor that was our sea.
      I remember you pulling me off the sofa after hours spent reading to tell me that dinner was ready.
      I remember you sitting first with Chris, then Annie, and then Gin as they cut out patterns, and then patiently helping them learn to sew their own clothes.
      I remember tall jars of canned peaches and pears in that deliciously oversweet syrup, lined up on the shelves down under the stairs. And the jams, especially your raspberry freezer jam. And beans, and corn, and applesauce with cinnamon, and apple pies to make America proud.
      I remember your household Bibles: Better Homes and Gardens, and Good Housekeeping magazines, with recipes we came to know very well. You taught me to read Dear Abby, Hints from Heloise, and yes, even Reader’s Digest Condensed books; I wonder if you subscribed to those because of your belief in the awesome power of condensed milk.
      I remember—and have unfortunately inherited—your ability to say something totally tactless at the most inopportune moment. A rare affliction—and better so…
      I remember you preparing chocolate chip cookies in batches large enough to feed two normal families, and the dough in the fridge being half-gone before you managed to bake them.
      I remember you and Dad playing bridge with the Durrs, or the Bascombs, and laughing so loud we had trouble going to sleep.
      I remember sitting in front of that console stereo and listening again and again to Bill Cosby records, or Jonathan Winters, or the Brothers Four, Ray Coniff, Henri Mancini, and Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass—you probably should have censored that album cover on “Whipped Cream and other Delights” for us boys!
      I remember those nights when you and Dad put soap flakes or whatever it was on the floor downstairs and invited friends over for music and dancing—how much fun it was to get up in the morning after and slide around on the floor like we were skating.
      Most of all, Mom, I remember the simple things you did that once seemed so unremarkable:
      The endless supply of spaghetti, always enough even for surprise visitors, friends, and guests.
      The leftovers you reheated that were always good enough for the hungry stomachs of seven ravenous kids. We all are devout believers in the power of leftovers.
      In the winter, hot chocolate in that huge cast aluminum pan on the stove, steaming and waiting for us as we came in with our jeans soaked through, hands numb from the snow.
      Cinnamon rolls you made for neighbors and friends at Christmas, the smell of the dough fermenting and then the intoxicating aroma of baking cinnamon in the air.
      You hanging clothes on the line, and then heading down to the garden to weed and hoe the vegetables, berries, beans, and corn you and Dad planted for many years in a row. Through all those years, despite all the chores, the garden, and the increasing numbers of kids and grandkids, the houses you lived in always had truly beautiful flowers. It’s a subtle, but deeply meaningful gesture to greet those who visit you with these simple, extravagant beauties of Nature, and to keep their blooms for your personal pleasure in times of quiet reflection.
      For me, the memory remains of many trips to the public library, which for Mom were I’m sure cherished hours of enforced quiet and a break from the chaotic energy of seven children. To me, those hours were windows that opened onto the wider world I would explore, in books, in teaching, and by living abroad. More than anyone else, Mom, you gave me the love of words that is, to this day, my most cherished gift. We are all readers in the McCleary family—and that also sets us apart.

      Since you are the one who literally drove me to the books that have so enriched my life, I’d like to offer you a lovely poem from J.R.R. Tolkien, one that showed up on my Literary Quotes page the first day I sat to begin writing this goodbye to you:

      Still round the corner there may wait
      A new road or a secret gate,
      And though I oft have passed them by
      A day at last will come when I
      Shall take the hidden paths that run
      West of the Moon, East of the sun.

      I hope you have the chance now to explore all those paths that were not open to you during your life.
      Mom, you brought into this imperfect world seven strangely and variously gifted people, each of us unique—and uniquely challenged—and you made sure we had all the basics necessary to grow up never feeling deprived, less fortunate, or less capable than anyone else. You taught us right and wrong, and here today, your presence flows on in the veins of your children, your grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
      I know that God has welcomed you as you so richly deserve; I also know that you know, no matter how seldom some of us actually said it, that we always loved you. We will continue to love these memories of you that will never fade, and we will find your quirky character traits in our children and grandchildren.
      In Paradise, the first commandment was to be fruitful and multiply. Looking out on this crazy extended family, and on all the dear friends you adopted into our clan, you have more than fulfilled that commandment, Mom. The next commandment was to tend to the Garden of Eden. So even in Paradise, I’m sure there are flower baskets that can use tending, and you are probably already pulling off any wilted blooms and waiting to catch God to tell Him where He should relocate this basket or that.

      But first, Momma, rest in peace, at least for a little while; no one ever deserved that rest more.

    • Reply June 15, 2016 - 16:07 AM posted by Ginny Shook

      Hi Dad, Woke up early this morning thinking about you. I remember you were always an early riser, guess the same holds true for me. I think about you many times during the day. Some of these thoughts bring a smile to my face, others bring tears that are all too frequent these days. Thank you for being such a great dad, but also a great man. I love you and will see you again someday, hopefully not too soon though! :)

    • Reply June 13, 2016 - 16:36 PM posted by Gloria Carter

      John - I will miss your many calls checking up on me! I will miss seeing you and talking with you. I know that you are in heaven looking down on all of us. My solace is that you and Rich are enjoying many cribbage games and "tea" times together. Take care of each other and know that we will "meet again".

      Love you much!

    • Reply June 11, 2016 - 16:21 AM posted by Patrick McCleary

      Dad , growing up Mom would always say "wait till your father gets home" Dad your are now home with our Father in Heaven, and with Mom and all your friends.
      We miss you Dad and know that you were a great example of a Father and grandfather and great great Grandfather. Love You and you will always be in our hearts.

    • Reply June 09, 2016 - 16:14 AM posted by Christina McCleary

      Daddy...I think of you so many times during each day and revisit many happy times.
      Yesterday, you would have been 84; how I wish you could have been here longer!
      I hope you are having lots of great golf games with Roger and bridge with Momma and all the Carters!
      Love you so much and I am so glad that I had you for my Dad ~

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