Feb 272013

Richard Edward Cleary, 86, of Groton, died Sunday, February 24, 2013, at Boston Medical Center, Boston.

He was born on March 4, 1926 in West Groton, Massachusetts to Mildred Blood Cleary and Joseph Irving Cleary. He was educated at the Tarbell School in West Groton, and the Groton Public School system, graduating from Groton High Sschool in 1943. He joined the Marine Corps during WW II, and served on several islands in the South Pacific. He finished his wartime service as a member of the occupation forces in Japan. He achieved the rank of corporal and was honorably discharged on August 12, 1946.

He married his high school sweetheart, Rose Louise Haberski, on September 29, 1946. They resided in West Groton and then on Mill Street in Groton, where they spent more than 60 years together.

After returning from the war and marrying, Richard resumed working with the Hollingsworth & Vose Paper Company in West Groton, where during his early years, he had held part-time work as a laborer. His father, Joseph Cleary, was foreman of the shipping department there. Dick took two leaves of absence in order to attend umpire school in Florida. In the late 1940s, he experienced what it was like to travel the south, umpiring minor league baseball games. Rose, who went with him on at least one of these adventures, did not care for this so much. He returned to H & V for good in 1949, and remained for more than 40 more years, retiring in 1991 from the position of Assistant superintendent of Finishing and Shipping.

Dick loved horses from an early age, and in the late 1950s started a serious hobby of owning and training several Standardbred horses, some of which he raced, himself, as a driver, at racetracks such as Suffolk Downs, Rockingham, Hinsdale and Saratoga. His partners in this endeavor were his good friend, Winthrop Sherwin, and his friend and cousin, Elliot “Barney” Blood. His horses included Groton Boy and Gala Melody.

He was proud of his Mill Street home and property, located next door to his in-laws, Katherine and Anthony Haberski. He and Rose were meticulous in the upkeep of their lawns and trees, as inspired by his father-in-law who had been a professional gardener.

Richard and Rose had two children, Jennifer, born in 1947; and Jesslyn, born in 1952. Rose predeceased him in 2009, as did Jennifer, in 2010. He lost a grandchild, Anthony Edward Cozzens, in 1968; his brother, Robert “Rocky” Cleary, in 2003; and his brother, Joseph Cleary, on February 23, 2013, just hours before his own passing.

He is survived by his daughter, Jesslyn Cleary, of Andes NY; his former son-in-law George Cozzens, of Charlton; his grandchildren, Melissa and her husband Thomas Plumley of Brimfield and Lee Cozzens and his wife Christine Robideaux of Ware; his great-grandchildren, Nicholas and Alexis Plumley of Brimfield; his sister, Jane and husband Joseph Croteau of West Groton; and his sister-in-law, Betty Cleary, of Pepperell.

Services will be private. A memorial gathering is planned for the spring.

The T.J. Anderson & Son Funeral Home, 25 Fitchburg Road, Ayer is assisting the family with arrangements. Please see www.andersonfuneral.com for additional information.