John Irving Cleese Jr. (1925 - 2013)

Obituary
  • "May the God of all comfort grant you peace at this..."

JOHN IRVING CLEESE, JR. Born December 23, 1925, John Irving Cleese, Jr. of Susanville, California passed away peacefully on December 27, 2013 at the age of 88. John was preceded in death by both of his parents, John and Ethel, as well as his younger brother, Robert. As a very young boy, John came to be known by several nicknames by which he would eventually be called by his family and close friends. When he was just a toddler, his mother began calling John her "Little Man" which was later shortened to "Manny". His father nicknamed him "Skip" after a cartoon character named Skippy, whose socks were always scrunched up around his ankles. Eventually, John was nicknamed "High Pockets" by his future father-in-law, because John was very tall (6'5"). In 1932, the Cleese family welcomed new neighbors, the Howard family, who purchased the home across the street from them. The new neighbors had a son and daughter, and their very pretty daughter, Lillie Lorine Howard, was instrumental in changing the course of the rest of John's life. Nobody ever accused John of being dumb and in a very short period of time John and Lillie became very good friends, riding the school bus together to and from Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California where John was in his junior year and Lillie was a sophomore. Their friendship grew into a " romance" which soon became common knowledge throughout the school. John and his family had lived in the same home on Central Avenue since his infancy. During his years in high school, John worked after school and weekends at the family-owned business, George F. Cleese Lumber and Mill Work, Menlo Park, California which had been established by John's grandfather in the early 1920's. During World War II, John's grandfather, along with being a very savvy businessman, was also a draft board official. He and John's dad advised John to wait to be drafted into the service as opposed to enlisting because it would allow John more opportunities to be selective about how he would serve. John heeded their advise and was inducted into the Navy where he served as Quarter Master on his ship, an LCI (997). Prior to that time, John and Lillie knew they wanted to marry as soon as he was discharged. While John was overseas he wrote to his mom and told her to help Lillie pick out her engagement ring. When John was discharged from the Navy, in early 1946, he resumed working at the lumber yard, and he married his high school sweetheart on September 8, 1946. Early in 1947, John decided to finish his education, which quickly led to employment at Food Machinery Corporation in San Jose, California. In 1948, he again changed jobs, and was hired by Lockheed, in Sunnyvale, California where he worked as a Design Engineer until his retirement in 1987. In December of 2008, John and Lillie moved to Susanville, California. They spent 67 years together, building beautiful homes in which they committed themselves to raising seven little Cleese's into adulthood and watching as their children began families of their own, blessing their parents with many grandchildren. And, oh! How their family grew! John had many interests which included home improvement, gardening, and spending time with his family. He also loved to dig for clams and dive for abalone, Frequently, our "little" family would join another family group or two, to go to the ocean to fish for smelt, a process which we called "jumping smelt", an activity which the entire family could enjoy. John is survived by his wife, Lillie, of Susanville, his brother-in-law, Wrex Howard of Chico, California, and children; Susan Bristow, (Roderick, deceased), Nancy Van Siegman, (Robert), Beverly Askey, (Jerry), David Cleese, Patricia Cleese, Kathleen Simonsen, (Mark), and Wrex Cleese. He is also survived by 19 grandchildren, 26 great grandchildren. There is no funeral service planned at this time. There will be a Celebration of John's Life at a future date.
Published in Paradise Post from Jan. 4 to Jan. 7, 2014
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