Kenneth J. Cleary

May 18th, 2020

Kenneth J. Cleary, age 89, of Cambridge, MA formerly a long-time resident of Wilmington, MA passed away on May 16, 2020.

Kenneth was the beloved husband of Eleanor M. (Gardner) Cleary, devoted father of Kenneth J. Cleary & his wife Joanne of Cambridge, Jeanne E. Cleary of Watertown, and John G. Cleary & his wife Kathy of Bedford, New Hampshire, loving grandfather of Kenneth J. Cleary II & fiancée Sarah Mathews, James A. Cleary & his wife Carol, Sean A. Cleary & his wife Elysse, Robert S. Cleary & his wife Deborah, Nathan C. Greess, Matthew Cleary & his fiancée Caitlin Canetti, Krista J. Cleary-Arel & her husband Matt, and Tucker Cleary, and the great grandfather to Thomas, Peter, Andrew, Charlie, Paul, Jaxson, and Leon, and the cherished son of the late James A. and Elinor M. (Graham) Cleary, dear brother of David G. Cleary of Andover and the late James Cleary of Chicago, and treasured uncle to many beloved nieces and nephews.

Ken graduated from Rindge Technical High School in 1948, a stand out there in track and football. Ken met the love of his life, Ellie in the 8th grade at a church dance. After high school they married and spent their lives together with family always at the center.

Ken was an active member of the Wilmington United Methodist Church, singing in the choir and impacting the lives of youth as a counselor in the MYF. An avid sports fan, Ken coached MYF basketball, Wilmington Pop Warner Football, Cambridge Youth Hockey, and the Valley Junior Warriors where his grandchildren played. Ken found a passion for travel and the outdoors, leading many trips on the Appalachian trails, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, and an annual backpack ski trip into Zealand Hut with family and friends. He and Ellie traveled all 50 states together, 49 of them in their RV, making dear friends and music all along the way. Ken played music by ear and he could be heard leading many a family and group sing-alongs, strumming away on the guitar/banjo, or rocking away on the piano or harmonica.

In 1991, Ken retired from the MBTA after 30 years in the subway’s Central Division. He received multiple commendations. As Governor Dukakis said during his commendation ceremony, “To stop an argument or start a train, call Cleary.”

Ken was a lifelong learner, always reading and discussing philosophy, religion and history. He was a staunch Liberal, however Ken’s love of people far exceeded his love of ideas.

Ken and Ellie were married for 67 years, and their mutual devotion was unparalleled. Although the reality of Covid-19 kept the rest of his family he so dearly loved a painful distance away, his beloved wife Ellie was with him until the end. He will be deeply missed by all that knew him.

Due to the current situation with the Coronavirus and for everyone’s safety, the Cleary family will have a private interment. A Celebration of Ken’s life will be held at a later date.

In memory of Kenneth Cleary, donations be may be made to the Appalachian Mountain Club, 10 City Square, Boston, MA, 02129 or via their website at


13 Entries in Guest Book for “Kenneth J. Cleary”

  1. Chuck gigliotti says:

    Ken coach me Pop Warner football Very kind man My condolences go out to the family

  2. Marie & Ed Manning says:

    Our sincere heartfelt condolences to all of you. We have so many wonderful memories of times spent with Ken. May God bless all of you as you grieve the loss of a special man, husband, father, grandfather, great grand father, brother, uncle and friend.

  3. Barbara (Coursey)Throwe says:

    I am so sorry to hear about your dad’s passing. He was a great man who raised a great daughter. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Barb (Coursey) Throwe

  4. Lorraine Butler says:

    I don’t know you I’m so sorry to hear about your husband passing he is now Resting in peace may god be with you and your family you are all in my prays Always remember the good times you had with him

  5. mary barry emerick says:

    Jeanne & family, I am so sorry for the loss of your Dad. You are all in my thoughts & prayers.
    Heaven just got another angel. RIP Mr. Cleary

  6. Marge Peabody says:

    We are so sorry to read of Ken’s passing. He shared his talents and love for the community all the time. We loved the times that we went camping together and watching the choir from your church. Thanks to Ken and you Ellie our lives are so much richer.

  7. Suzi Spiris Cushing says:

    I have such fond memories of the Cleary’s from our old neighborhood in Hathaway Acres. I was saddened to read of his passing, sending my love and thoughts to you all….

  8. Cindy Field says:

    I’m so sad to hear of Ken’s passing. I did Ken and Eleanor’s hair at Windsor Place. I always enjoyed them when they came into the shop. He will be truly missed. My sincerest sympathies to all who knew and loved him.

  9. Jim Dirubbo says:

    Ken, Jeannie, and John
    I was saddened to hear that Ken has passed away. My thought are with you and your families, and your Mom.
    Thinking about Ken always brings a smile. He was, perhaps, the kindest, happiest man I have ever encountered. I hope you all will be well during this difficult time. Jim Dirubbo

  10. Mark W Richards says:

    Ken, Jean and John,
    What a story and wonderful man and family. I will always cherish memories of our childhood in Hathaway Acres. I still bear the scares with honor from our neighborhood hockey and ball games. Your parents helped make it possible.

  11. Carol Mutchler says:

    To the Cleary Family,
    I am sorry to learn of Ken’s passing. Ken was a wonderful neighbor, always friendly and kind. My thoughts and prayers are with you, and especially Ellie, during this difficult time.

  12. Cynthia Woods says:

    Ken, Jeanne, and John,
    Marge Lamkin, myself, and my brother Bill, send our sympathies and love. Your Dad has a special place in our hearts. Be well and take care.
    Cindy (Lamkin) Woods

  13. Wendy Colbert says:

    To my cousins and dear Aunt Ellie, my deepest condolences. Uncle Ken was one of my favorite Uncles, I had no idea he was so into the Appalachian trail as I am also having hiked the beginning and end and many in between. He will me missed and cherished always …. love cousin Wendy (Lewis ) Colbert

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