The former Cornwall Reeve(councilor) was a student at St. Lawrence College. The four time elected MPP never lost a provincial race in spite of his party doing so twice during his career.
Jim Brownell, who replaced Mr. Cleary as MPP until retiring himself before the last election had the following to say.
In Memory of John Cleary
It is with sadness that I learned of the passing of John Cleary, a family friend to the Brownell’s, for many years. Long before John entered politics, he and Elizabeth were friends with my mom and dad, and, as children, my siblings and I always held the Cleary family in high esteem.
On a personal note, I got to know John through our work on Council for the Township of Cornwall, in the early 1970’s, when John took me under his wing and taught me so much about municipal politics. When John threw his hat into the ring to run for the Liberal nomination, I was there in his corner, and I went on to serve as his Chief Financial Officer for three of his four provincial campaigns.
In politics, John was a true gentleman, always going about his work in a sincere and gentle manner. Underneath the gentleness, though, there was a spirit of determination and understanding of what was just and fair. Although his travels to Queen’s Park took him out of the riding for many days of the week, it was always his compassion for his constituents that was front and centre in all that he did. He was a true constituency man, and constituency issues were above all else, at Queen’s Park.
John’s family was always central to his life, and we thank them for sharing him with all of us, for so many years. He was a loyal friend to many, and we shall miss his gentleness and kindness. To Elizabeth and all the Cleary family, I join with my wife Paulette, and the extended Brownell family, in offering thoughts and prayers in the loss of a dear friend.
Jim Brownell, Retired MPP
James Borer, current President of the Provincial Riding Association sent in this statement.
It is with sadness that the Provincial Liberal Association of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry learned of the passing of a wonderful friend and Member of Provincial Parliament to many, Mr. John Cleary. Through many years of community service in politics, whether at the municipal or provincial scene, John Cleary will be remembered for his compassion and care to his constituents.
He truly was a man who gave outstanding service and close attention to constituency matters, always done in a kind and gentle manner. To his dear wife Elizabeth, and his wonderful family, we extend our sincerest sympathy, and we hope and pray that God will be with you all, in your time of sorrow.
Cornwall Mayor and former MP Bob Kilger contacted by phone added the following:
John Cleary was the consummate constituency politician devoted to the public that he served. … He gave politics and politicians a good name.
Services have not been announced yet.