Cremation Society of the Carolinas
2205 E Millbrook Rd
Raleigh, NC 27604
(919) 571-3300
More Obituaries for Arthur Cleary
Looking for an obituary for a different person with this name?

Arthur Cleary

1931 - 2019
Arthur Cleary Obituary
Arthur C. Cleary

February 16, 1931 - September 7, 2019


Arthur Charles Cleary died peacefully on Saturday morning, September 7, 2019, at his home and with his family, as he wished.

Known to everyone as Art, he was a loving and committed husband and father. Art was more a man of actions than words but, while he usually waited until asked, he had no problem sharing his opinions which were always keenly observant. He strongly believed in giving a hand up to anyone he could.

Trained as a civil engineer, Art's first career in the Army Corp of Engineers included postings to Fort Belvoir, VA, where he was introduced to Elizabeth Mulkey in 1956; Kaiserslautern, Germany, where he finally persuaded Elizabeth to marry him in 1957; and Salina, Kansas, where he built a missile silo before moving to the DC metro area. Over the next eight years their first three children were born, and during that time Art served at the National Security Agency, the Pentagon, and did one-year tours in South Korea (1965) and Vietnam (1969-70). His final posting was to Worms, Germany where their youngest child was born. He retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1974. While in the service he completed ranger training and jump school, which prepared him for his next career as a full-time parent.

Art and Elizabeth, his devoted, loving, but sometimes exasperated wife of 62 years, moved their family of six to Chapel Hill in 1975 so that Elizabeth could pursue graduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. It was her turn to choose where to live, and she made an excellent choice. Art started his second career as a stay-at-home dad, called a "house-husband" then. He took over household management (which became much more regimented), made school lunches, cooked meals, did laundry, cleaned the house with a shop vac, drove carpool, made a monthly run to Fort Bragg for groceries at the commissary, took everyone on summer adventures to places like the rope swing at Clearwater Lake, camping at Kerr Lake, and a lot of time at the Heritage Hills pool.

When their youngest left for college Art needed something to do with all of his energy, so he began volunteering. He found his niche with the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service of Chapel Hill, cooking and serving free meals in the Community Kitchen. He served as President of the Inter-Faith Council, founded the Community Kitchen's breakfast program and started the ongoing ministry of collecting food donations from local grocery stores. He was later instrumental in the renovation of Community House in Chapel Hill which provided the first permanent homeless shelter and space for the Community Kitchen.

His final volunteer career was with Habitat for Humanity of Orange County where he got to do several things that he loved: building things, spending time with good friends, and being of service. He earned his plumbing and electrician's licenses, so he could provide those services without charge to Habitat.

The Cleary children Peggy Cleary Myers (husband Robert, sons Patrick and Henry, and Patrick's wife Molly); John Cleary (wife Melissa, son Will and daughter Allison Garrell); Charles Cleary (wife Mary-Cassie Shaw, daughters Cassie, Mollie, and Janie); and daughter Cathy Cleary (husband Reid Chapman) are immensely grateful to have grown up with a loving father and mother. Art sometimes had a gruff manner, and had no patience behind the wheel, but could also be incredibly kind, giving, and patient. From our dad we learned to: work hard, always keep your word, treat all who you meet with dignity and respect, and to love each other - which we do.

A funeral Mass for family and friends is planned at the Newman Catholic Student Center in Chapel Hill on Saturday, September 14, 2019 at 2:30 p.m. Those who would be comforted by and comfortable at Mass are welcome to join us. A Celebration and Remembrance Reception will immediately follow at the Newman Activity Center starting at about 4:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Inter-Faith Council Community Kitchen, 110 W. Main Street, Carrboro, NC 27510 (http://www.ifcweb.org/) or Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, 88 Vilcom Center Drive Suite L110, Chapel Hill, NC 27514 (https://www.orangehabitat.org/).

Condolences may be shared online at

Published in The News & Observer on Sept. 12, 2019
Read More
Give others a chance to express condolences. Not right now.
Inform family & friends of Arthur's passing.
Planning Guide
Free funeral planning guide compliments of Cremation Society of the Carolinas