Kevin Michael Cleary, 51, of Kamakura, Japan, died peacefully with his family around him on Thursday, January 16, 2014, following a heart attack he suffered a week earlier while at a conference in Kyoto, Japan. Kevin was born April 9, 1962, in Bartlesville, OK to James William Cleary and Elizabeth Ann (Adams) Cleary, and had lived in Japan for more than twenty years. His wake and funeral were held on Jan. 21 and 22 at St. Ignatius Catholic church on the campus of Sophia University in Tokyo. Over five hundred friends, colleagues, and students joined family members in celebrating his life.
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Kevin attended St. John elementary school and graduated in 1980 from Bartlesville College High School. He was a member of the Col-Hi swim team, a lifeguard and swim coach at Sooner Pool, and a member of the Phillips 66 Splash Club.
After earning a B.S. in Accounting and Economics (with a minor in English) at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Kevin attended Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, earning a Juris Doctorate in 1988. He was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1988 and the Illinois Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in 1989.
From 1988 to 1991, Kevin taught financial and managerial accounting at Loyola University of Chicago. He met his future wife Naoko Fujiwara at this time, when she was earning her degree at the Art Institute of Chicago. They were married on August 28, 1993, at the Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier in Kyoto, Japan. Kevin then began his long association with Sophia University, the Jesuit institution in Tokyo where he taught for many years.
Since 2008, Kevin has served as an Associate Professor in the International Exchange Center of the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, teaching English to Japanese and international students, drafting international agreements, and promoting TMDU's international presence. Kevin was honored by being the first non-Japanese professor hired at TMDU for a fulltime position. He traveled extensively in Europe, North America and Asia to fulfill his responsibilities at TMDU and his duties as President of JALT, the Japan Association of Language Teaching, a group that is instrumental in the professional development of many thousands of teachers in Japan.
From 1991 to the present, Kevin conducted a popular English Through Cinema course for adults at Sophia University Community College, as well as classes in accounting and English. In 1993, he began lecturing in business, computers, web design and hypermedia at Sophia University. Kevin was a loyal user and collector of Mac computers and installed and configured the server software and lab at Sophia. During these years he also wrote a weekly cross-cultural newspaper column, helped organize a labor union to promote and protect the rights of non-tenured faculty, and became active in the JALT organization that meant so much to him.
Kevin was a longtime personnel consultant for Alps Electric Co., Ltd., supporting employees on expatriate assignments by doing legal work centering on obtaining visas and residence permits in the U.S. and Europe. In 2008, he taught English to engineering students at the Tokyo University of Science, and published a series of popular science-based textbooks with colleagues, and also began lecturing in Accounting at the Meiji University Graduate School of Accountancy. He worked as a free-lance editor for Macmillan, and wrote or co-authored 14 textbooks, including Adventures Abroad and Homestay Adventures, books to help Japanese students use essential English to prepare for travel abroad.
Kevin was a founding member and current co-chair of the IEEE Professional Communication Society-Japan; Advisory Board member of IAFOR, International Academic Forum-Japan; an officer of the Society of Writers, Editors, and Translators in Japan; a member of the Association of Computing Machinery; the National Association of Parliamentarians; the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL International Association); and Democrats Abroad-Japan. His many years of affiliation with JALT were an important part of Kevin's life, starting in 2002. He served as Treasurer and Membership Chair for the Tokyo Chapter and later as national Internal Audit Coordinator, Financial Steering Committee Chair, and since 2010, President.
Kevin loved teaching, and his encyclopedic knowledge and skills spanned many fields. It must also be noted that this gentle man, so devoted to his family, his students, his cats, computers and classic cinema, was probably the number one fan of Sonic Youth in Asia.
Kevin was preceded in death by his father, James William Cleary. He is survived by his wife Naoko Fujiwara Cleary, son Atticus Nagi (Ati) Cleary aand daughter Kirsten Mizu (Kit) Cleary of the home in Kamakura; his mother Ann Cleary, Bartlesville, OK; sisters Karen and husband Michael Kersey and their son Evan, Austin, TX; Celeste Cleary, Keysville, GA and husband Mark Portier; and Heather Cleary, Los Angeles, CA, as well as many friends and relatives and colleagues in Chicago and on both sides of the Pacific.
Those who wish to make a contribution in Kevin's name are encouraged to donate to JALT (through PayPal at email@example.com), the
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Published in Examiner-Enterprise from Feb. 2 to Mar. 2, 2014