Sumter, SC ……. Our father, CMSgt(Ret) William J. Cleary Jr., passed away gently in the loving arms of his family this day Monday, Feb. 5th at 12:00pm.
He lived such a brave, adventurous and robust life. Which thread of his story to tell? It began in N.Y. City, on February 20, 1930. Born to Irish immigrant parents William and Bridget (Killilea) Cleary. He was the only boy in a family of five, twins Mary and Winnie(deceased),Dorothy Burley of Sanford North Carolina, and Pat Jordan(deceased). He attended Catholic schools in Manhattan and worked part time as an usher at Radio City Music Hall. His first big decision was to choose between being a priest (lucky for us he did not), a tug boat captain on the Hudson River, and what he chose, a career in the newly formed United States Air Force. He was stationed at Ellsworth AFB, in Rapid City SD when he met the love of his life, Marietta McFarland. Bill and Marietta married in NY City in 1951 and began their adventures together; including five children, all girls, it’s a theme. Colleen was born in Kansas, Cathleen in California, Carolan in Alaska, and Corrine and Christine in Colorado. Bill had 4 overseas tours of duty; Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand. He rose quickly through the ranks and was dedicated to his troops. We traveled this country from one side to the other, living in 13 different states. He finished his 30 year career at Shaw Air Force Base, 9th Tactical Intelligence Squadron, USAF. He retired and made his home, in Sumter South Carolina, since 1978. Next, he joined Metropolitan Insurance where he continued to keep families safe, just in a different way. Then, he found a new calling in volunteering. He worked with Habitat for Humanity for 10 years finishing as Regional Director. He loved helping seniors with their taxes through Tax Aid with AARP, he served 18 years, the last five as the Appalachian Regional Coordinator. He was a lifetime member of the Benevolent Order of the Elks, a forty year member of the Sumter ewcomers Club and the Shaw AFB Chiefs’ Group. He loved to laugh, swim, dance, enjoy family, and play games. Bridge became his favorite, he could remember every card played, much to the frustration of his daughters, wife and opponents. He had the most wonderful sense of humor which he passed on to many members of his family. He taught us all to play ping pong. He could beat most of us, but not always his wife Marietta. They won more medals from the Senior Olympics in Ping Pong than we have tried to count. He had a true wanderlust, which was served beautifully through the military, then Habitat for Humanity, Tax Aid, and his yearly treks in the motorhome with his wife, daughter and son-in-law. They visited 46 states, and Canada twice, in the 18 summers they traveled together. His most precious trip was to Ireland with his 90 year old mother who made her first return trip since immigrating at 22. He lived everyday of his life as a practicing Catholic. He shared his love of God and Country with his family and friends. He was a member of Ultreya, Cursillo, and served on the Parish Council of Saint Anne’s Catholic Church. He was filled with faith, love, laughter, and an optimism that at times seemed to defy logic. He put all his faith in God.
It is with great sadness, and joy for having known him, that he will be survived by his family; Sister Dorothy Burley of Sanford NC. Colleen and Michael Spigner of Sumter and their children, Caroline (John) Ropp; Cathleen Cleary(John Clayton) of Columbia and her children, Kelly (Danny) McVey and Will Jordan; Carolan Hanson and her sons, Joseph and John (Kristall) Hanson of Sumter; Corrine Cleary (Kim Wood) of Monrovia California; Christine Cleary (Patti Rodman) of Edmond, Oklahoma and their children, Syd, Adam, Rachel, Shawn, Lindsey and Noah; and honorary daughter, Deb and Bill Denkler of Minden, Nevada. He also leaves behind many loving memories of his 9 great grandchildren: Elizabeth, Johnny, David, Marietta Grace and Sarah Catherine Ropp; Connor and Bryce Hanson; and Brody and Brianna McVey.
He is now reunited with his beloved wife of 67 years, Marietta, his parents, 3 sisters, and granddaughter Michelle Spigner.
Our father’s greatest legacy is that he modeled how to live, laugh, and love with great purpose and integrity. His loss is inestimable.
A funeral service will be held on Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 10:00 am in the Bullock Funeral Home Chapel. Interment will follow at 12:00pm in the Ft. Jackson National Cemetery with full military honors.
The family will receive friends on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Bullock Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers the family respectfully requests donations to be made to Habitat for Humanity, United Ministries, Agape Hospice or Wounded Warriors.
You may go to www.bullockfuneralhome.com and sign the family’s guest book.
The family has chosen Bullock Funeral Home for the arrangements.
Bullock Funeral Home
Wednesday February 7th, 2018
6:00pm - 8:00pm
1190 Wilson Hall Road
Sumter, SC 29150
Bullock Funeral Home Chapel
Thursday February 8th, 2018
10:00am - 11:00am
1190 Wilson Hall Road
Sumter, SC 29150
Ft. Jackson National Cemetery
Thursday February 8th, 2018
4170 Percival Rd
Columbia, SC 29229
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Celebrating the life of William Joseph Cleary, Jr.
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Sorry to hear of the death of your family member, William Cleary. Reading about his legacy impressed upon me a kindhearted and caring person. I feel as if I knew him personally, so be comforted that he is remembered by our Heavenly Father. May Almighty God sustain you at this time of such great loss. May you find comfort in knowing that your loved one is safe in his memory and he will remember every detail about her and bring her back again. Acts 24:15
Submitted by Phyllis on Feb 7 2018 06:46:30 PM
My condolences to the family of William J Cleary Jr. I never met your loved one, but after reading his obituary I wish I'd have had an opportunity to know him. Your reflections on his full, fruitful, and rich life is a message of inspiration to others. May you find comfort in knowing that his life continues to touch others.
Submitted by Karen L Jackson on Feb 7 2018 04:12:19 PM
To the family,I New both Mr.and Mrs.Cleary,and they were always so loving to me and my Children,Mr Cleary sold me life insurance,to be in town ,or in passing a hug they always had for me I will never forget! They both will be very very missed by their family and friends and their grandchildren and my family the most loving two people In Sumter!RIP you are now both back in each other's arms again!😇
Submitted by Brenda Ann Crawford on Feb 6 2018 09:12:30 PM
I never had the privilege of meeting Mr. Cleary, but I can tell that he was a wonderful man, that much is reflected by the loving, giving family that he and his late wife raised..
Prayers for comfort and rest during this sad time...
Submitted by Sue Craver on Feb 6 2018 02:31:14 PM
Uncle Bill -- you will be truly missed by all. My prayers are with all your daughters and their husbands and partners, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as this is truly a sad day that they have lost both parents in less than 6 months. May you rest in peace. in heaven:) Love ya Maureen Crosby
Submitted by Maureen Crosby on Feb 6 2018 11:53:09 AM
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