Visitation at Funeral Home
Obituary of James W. Cleary
James William “Jim” Cleary died at home peacefully on Sunday, August 13. He was 46 years old.
A resident of Locust Valley, Jim grew up running in the woods and swimming in the water of Oyster Bay Cove. He graduated from Oyster Bay High School and Long Island University, CW Post, where he earned a B.F.A. There he met his lifelong friend, Anthony Jordan, who collaborated in many shenanigans over the years.
Jim spent 20 years working for the Nassau County Parks, Recreation and Museums, first as as a Recreation Aide and then a Leader, coordinating social media and publicity for county events with his beloved team.
Jim was diagnosed at 3 with Muscular Dystrophy, and lived with it his entire life with the help of friends and family. At age 14, Jim began to use a wheelchair and he was proud that he never let his disability define him as a person.
He was known for his wry wit and his love of a good, continuing joke at the expense of his many cousins and friends. As a member of a very large family, Jim’s only expectation was that he be treated the same as everyone. And he wasn’t afraid to use his wheelchair to his own advantage; more than once he guilt-tripped ticket agents into selling him, his family and friends great seats to sold-out events. He called it “playing the Jimmy card” and the results were always exciting.
He enjoyed road trips with Michael Pettigrew, his longtime aide and friend, travelling anywhere there was a good restaurant, from Quebec to Florida. In Jim’s words, “Michael allowed me to live.”
A lifelong supporter of the Knicks and the Jets, Jim understood the importance of rooting for the underdog. He always had an encouraging word for anyone who struggled.
Jimis survived by his mother, Rita, his brother Mark, his sister Sharon, brother-in-law Michael and nephew Alexander, his army of aunts, uncles and cousins, and countless friends.
He was a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Sea Cliff.
A memorial service will be held at St. John’s Episcopal Church of Cold Spring Harbor on Friday, September 29, at 11 a.m., immediately followed by a reception at the Piping Rock Club.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: https://give.cshl.edu/ and the Muscular Dystrophy Association: https://mda.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donate.event&eventID=824&referrer=topdonatebutton%20mdaorg