Age 81, died on June 2, 2021. Preceded in death by his parents John and Florence Cleary. He is survived by his wife of 52 years Carol (nee Jennewein); daughter Cathleen Willett (Jason); sons John and Ryan; grandsons Jack, Joe, and Auggie; granddaughters Elizabeth, Lily, and Lucy; brother Michael (Charlotte); and nieces Jennifer, Jackie, and Kelly. John’s life was dedicated to family, his work in the area of education, and country.
John grew up in North St. Louis City and attended the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL), graduating with a BS in Education with Area of Concentration in American History and MS in Counseling, eventually earning a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from Saint Louis University. Spanning over decades, he served as a high school teacher and guidance counselor, principal and then superintendent for Valley Park School District, and superintendent for Brentwood School District.
Following a nearly 30-year career in the United States Army Reserve, John retired as a Colonel in 1996. A highlight of his career included a year’s active service in the Desert Storm Conflict.
Ultimately, John loved his family. He was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend. Many people professionally and personally sought out his advice and mentorship. His passion for American history, especially within the military arena, exuded from his personality in conversation, as did his enjoyment for St. Louis Cardinals baseball. John was a lifelong learner to the very end, reading various historical tomes and myriad works of great literature during his retirement years and especially in that period of his final months. His optimistic outlook, great humor, wisdom and intellect, deep faith, and service to the community will be remembered by all who knew him.
Funeral from Kutis Affton Chapel, 10151 Gravois, on Saturday, June 5, at 8:30 a.m. to St. Andrew Catholic Church (Lemay) for 9 a.m. Mass. Interment at Mt. Olive Cemetery. If desired, memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (314-881-6000). Visitation Friday 4-8 p.m.