Thinking of you, Dad

This is from my fathers funeral service

Thank you all so much for being here today.

It’s been overwhelming to witness the outpouring response to the news of my father’s passing.

But having known him as we did, it makes perfect sense.

He had an endless curiosity about people.

It’s likely that nearly everyone here has a story about Mike Cleary. But the story he always was most interested in, was yours.

He would be just as compelled to hear the life story of the guy cleaning his car as he would be of the president of the company that built it.

This trait was more than occasionally mortifying to his kids as we would, only wanting to enjoy our lunch, squirm as he invariably went on to pepper our server with questions about their life and listened intently to their story.

A life long educator and steadfast proponent of educational advancement, he’d never fail to then diagnose what he thought would be a good next step for them: offering encouragement that they finish school, take a year abroad to study or generally take the next step in their lives.

That same curiosity he had about people extended to his desire to learn more about his own world. I heard last night something that best summed it up, he was a life long educator, and a never ending learner.

He not only relished the lessons leaned from Australia to Oslo, but he also was quick to point out his gratitude for the fact that he even had the opportunity to make those trips.

The most earnest of listeners, Mike Cleary was absolutely dedicated to whatever he did.

Whether that was loading up a car with four young boys, two sail boats, and a dog to make the 2 day drive to Vermont for summer vacation, or staying late to make sure a struggling student was able to make the most of his class and find a way for that student to best absorb the material.

Later in his life, he added a second career as his professorial pursuit saw him launch a new enterprise in PQ Systems.

Traveling to whatever conference, seminar, or new prospect that might help feed new growth for the company, he worked tirelessly to establish and grow the firm.

That dedicated effort didn;t slow with the years; the same day that he passed away, he excitedly recalled meeting a full crop of new contacts he made for the company after presenting a well-received paper at a conference in Nashville just last week.

But his vision was not just on the bottom line. He worked as just hard to build the company as he did to develop its culture, working to shield his employees from the bad times, while making sure that they shared the benefits in the good ones.

It is easy and natural to feel selfishly frustrated and shocked with how suddenly we lost him.

But it’s also impossible to not hear his own voice pointing out the positive.

My father had only last month just celebrated his 50th anniversary with my incredible mother Barbara. They had taken a trip this summer to celebrate, visiting Europe, the Balkan states, and checking off a long sought-after destination, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Dad would point out that he was grateful to have had every one of those 50 years with my mom, and even more grateful to have the chance to take a trip like that with her.

He was already looking forward to next summer in Vermont. He was not one to easily air his complaints, but in this situation he had no problem making clear that being there for four weeks this summer, was simply not enough.

He had tremendous pride in his four sons and the paths each had followed into adulthood, and his adoration for his grandchildren was palpable.

He was not only excited about the state of some cherished institutions—PQ Systems, the Miami Valley School, Norwich University, the St. Vincent Homeless Center, he was also rightfully excited about his role in having helped them each in his own way.

In his giving, he was as discrete as he was generous, and his generosity will be a lasting lesson and memory.

I hope that he touched your life in a way that you will carry with you in the future.

He was always asking what your life story was, and I am sure that everyone here is just glad to have been a part of his.

Thank you


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