In the ebb and flow of life, there are individuals who leave indelible marks on the world around them, shaping communities and touching hearts. One such remarkable individual was Donald Cleary, a man whose legacy resounds with service, dedication, and a profound commitment to his community. The news of Donald Cleary’s passing has cast a somber light, prompting a reflection on the life he lived, the roles he undertook, and the impact he left behind. In this article, we remember the journey of Donald Cleary, exploring his lifelong dedication to his country, his community, and his loved ones. As we commemorate his life, we delve into his contributions, his relationships, and the cherished memories that will forever keep his spirit alive. Join us in paying tribute to a man whose story is an inspiration to us all.
1. Introduction: Remembering the Legacy of Donald Cleary
In the tapestry of life, there are individuals who leave an indelible mark, their contributions shaping the communities they touch and their stories inspiring generations to come. One such individual was Donald Cleary, a man whose journey was marked by dedication, service, and an unwavering commitment to his community. As news of his passing reverberates, we are prompted to reflect upon the chapters of his life that were dedicated to selflessness and compassion. In this article, we pay tribute to the legacy of Donald Cleary, a life that encapsulated service, education, and community engagement. Let us take a moment to remember and celebrate the life of a man whose impact will be felt for years to come.
2. A Life of Service: From Soldier to Educator
Donald Cleary’s journey of service began when he was drafted into the Army in 1967. He embarked on a path of duty and valor, attending Officer Candidate School and serving in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. His commitment extended beyond active duty as he continued his service in the U.S. Army Reserve, eventually retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1994. For his unwavering dedication, he received esteemed military decorations, including the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Army Reserve Achievement Medal.
Transitioning to the realm of education, Donald Cleary embarked on a new mission—shaping young minds. His career in education took him from a Social Studies instructor for the Taunton Public Schools to higher administrative roles. His journey encompassed roles as an Assistant Principal, Principal, Assistant Superintendent, and Superintendent of Schools. Through his educational contributions, he shaped not only the lives of students but also the trajectory of the educational landscape.
3. Commitment to Community: Giving Back to Taunton
Donald Cleary’s dedication extended beyond his professional roles; it was deeply rooted in his commitment to the City of Taunton. As a devoted government employee, he channeled his energy into making a difference at the local level. Starting as a Social Studies instructor, he left an indelible mark on the Taunton Public Schools. His impact was not confined to the classroom; it resonated throughout the community.
His contributions went far beyond the classroom walls. Donald Cleary’s commitment to service was exemplified through his involvement in various organizations. From the Taunton Pop Warner and Old Colony YMCA to the Taunton Area School-Career, Kiwanis and Kiwanis Key Club, Elks Lodge #150, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 611, he dedicated his time to uplift the community that he cherished.
In his tenure as the 50th Mayor of the City of Taunton and as a City Councilor, he continued to serve, providing leadership that resonated with his vision for a better community. His multifaceted engagement showcased his unwavering commitment to fostering growth, unity, and a sense of belonging among the residents of Taunton.
4. The Passing of Donald Cleary: Obituary and Funeral Details
On August 27, the world bid farewell to Donald Cleary, a man whose impact knew no bounds. He passed away at the age of 79 at Morton Hospital, surrounded by the compassion of hospice nurses and the unwavering support of his devoted family. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, on February 24, 1944, he was the product of a rich tapestry of experiences and influences that would shape his extraordinary life journey.
Growing up in Taunton, Donald Cleary’s formative years were spent in the embrace of Coyle High School and St. Mary’s Primary School. These educational foundations would lay the groundwork for his lifelong dedication to learning and service. His academic pursuits led him to Providence College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in education. His commitment to continuous growth led him to Northeastern University, where he pursued further studies, earning his Master’s degree in 1974 and his Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in 1980.
In the tapestry of his personal life, Donald Cleary was a husband, a father, and a grandfather. He married Judy Conway in 1967, and together they embarked on a journey that would bring forth the joy of parenthood with the births of their four children: Donald Jr., Jeffrey, Jessica, and Keith. The legacy of family, love, and devotion that he leaves behind is a testament to his character and the values he upheld.
5. Remembering the Life: Family, Education, and Achievements
The chapters of Donald Cleary’s life were defined by his dedication to education, his commitment to his family, and the remarkable achievements he garnered along the way. His educational journey took him from the halls of Coyle High School to the hallowed halls of Providence College, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in education. Recognizing the value of lifelong learning, he pursued higher studies at Northeastern University, earning his Master’s degree in 1974 and his Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in 1980. His pursuit of knowledge was a testament to his unwavering commitment to growth and self-improvement.
Beyond his educational pursuits, Donald Cleary’s impact extended to the realm of service. His military career was adorned with honors and decorations, including the prestigious Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Army Reserve Achievement Medal. These symbols of bravery and sacrifice reflected his dedication to his country and his fellow soldiers.
As an educator, his influence was felt not only in the classroom but throughout the educational hierarchy. His roles as an Assistant Principal, Principal, Assistant Superintendent, and Superintendent of Schools showcased his unwavering commitment to shaping the educational landscape and providing students with opportunities for success.
6. Mourning a Loss: Family and Community Reaction
In the wake of Donald Cleary’s passing, the depth of his impact on both family and community becomes evident through the outpouring of grief and tributes. Surviving family members include his wife of 56 years, Judith Cleary, his children—Donald Cleary Jr. of Franklin, Jeffrey Cleary of San Francisco, Jessica Fernandes and her husband Peter of Taunton, and Keith Cleary and his wife Teressa of Mansfield.
As the familial bonds that he nurtured grieve, so too does the community he dedicated his life to. Tributes from his siblings, nieces, nephews, and extended family echo his profound influence on those around him. The adoration of his grandchildren—Hunter, Samantha, Janel, Mia, Covu Fernandes, Mary Kate, and Jack Cleary—highlights the legacy of love he leaves behind.
In addition to his immediate family, the community at large mourns the loss of a dedicated and impactful individual. Donald Cleary’s influence stretched across generations, and the collective sense of grief is a testament to the impact he had on the lives he touched.
7. Farewell and Celebration: Funeral Arrangements
The passing of Donald Cleary has prompted a time of both mourning and celebration—a time to bid farewell while honoring the life that was lived. Friends, family, and community members will have the opportunity to pay their respects during calling hours at the Crapo-Hathaway Funeral Home, located at 350 Somerset Ave. in Taunton. The gathering is scheduled for Thursday, August 30, from 4 to 7 p.m.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, September 1st, at St. Mary’s Church, situated at 14 Saint Mary’s Square in Taunton. The church’s hallowed walls will echo with remembrances, prayers, and the collective reflection on the legacy that Donald Cleary leaves behind.
Following the Mass, the final chapter of his journey will culminate in a burial ceremony at the Saint Francis Cemetery, located on Taunton’s North Walker Street. The burial site will serve as a resting place for a man whose impact extended far beyond the confines of the earth that he walked.
8. Honoring the Legacy: Contributions and Donations
The legacy that Donald Cleary leaves behind is one of dedication, service, and commitment. It’s a legacy that extends beyond his lifetime, resonating with the lives he touched and the community he uplifted. As a tribute to his dedication to education and community growth, those who wish to honor his memory are encouraged to make memorial donations.
Contributions can be directed to the “Donald Cleary Community College Scholarship” and sent to PO Box 193 in North Dighton, MA 02764-9998. This scholarship serves as a testament to his belief in the power of education to transform lives and shape futures. By contributing to this scholarship fund, individuals can continue his legacy by investing in the educational journey of future generations.
9. Conclusion: Upholding the Memory of Donald Cleary
As the world mourns the loss of Donald Cleary, it’s crucial to remember that his legacy lives on through the lives he impacted, the community he served, and the values he upheld. His journey is a testament to the transformative power of service, education, and unwavering dedication to a greater purpose.
While our hearts may be heavy with grief, let us also be uplifted by the stories, memories, and lessons he leaves behind. Let us carry forward the torch of his legacy, embodying the values he cherished and the impact he made. As we bid farewell to a remarkable individual, we also celebrate a life well-lived—a life that will forever inspire us to contribute, educate, and uplift those around us.