GLEESON, John Michael
87, passed peacefully surrounded by his family on October 22, 2019. He was born on May 10, 1932 in Chicago, IL. He moved to Tucson in 1944. At age 12, his uncles Bill and Mike Gleeson taught him the art of masonry which John continued until he was 72 years old. John's work can be seen all around Tucson including the Tucson Convention Center and on the Universuty of Arizona campus. He also used his craft in the many waterfalls, patios, block walls and room additions he built throughout his life. He was a graduate of Amphitheater High School in 1949 and enlisted and served in the U.S. Navy as a telegraphic operator from 1951- 1955. He enrolled at the University of Arizona and earned his B.A. and M.A. in education. He remained an avid and loyal Wildcat sports fan until the end. John began his 32 year teaching and coaching career in 1960 at Salpointe Catholic High School. He coached both the J.V. baseball and basketball teams. He became the Varsity Cross-Country coach in 1961 and the Varsity Baseball coach in 1963. Being a brick mason, John re-built the varsity baseball field and built the first masonry high school baseball dugouts in Tucson and probably Arizona. In 1969, The Salpointe Administration named the Varsity baseball field "Gleeson Field." Later that year, John was hired at Flowing Wells High School as a teacher and baseball coach. He also built the baseball dugouts while at Flowing Wells High School. His 1977 varsity baseball team was state runner-ups and in 1983 his team won the first and only baseball championship in school history. He retired from teaching in 1994. John is also a member of both the Salpointe and Flowing Wells High Schools Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Old Pueblo Cross-Country Hall of Fame for his work at Salpointe Catholic. In 1997, he was inducted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame. In 1999, the Flowing Wells governing board named the Varsity baseball field "John M. Gleeson Field" making John the first person in Tucson's sports history to have two sports venues named in his honor. In 2005, he was inducted into the Arizona Coaches Association's Hall of Fame and in 2007 he was inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Associations Hall of Fame. He was dedicated to his role as president of the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame from 2006 - 2016. Through it all, he cruised through life with his good old buddy, "blue bird" which was his cherished 1966 Chevy pick-up. John is survived by his wife of 50 years, Eva; daughter, Michele (David) BeMiller; son, Jim Gleeson; daughter, Janelle Gleeson; two granddaughters, Cailin and Alyssa; John leaves a legacy of love, dedication and commitment to his family, friends, students, coaches, colleagues and all endevers throughout his life. As sports writer Greg Hanson stated on Tuesday after his passing, "he was one heck of a good man." A Service will be held at Sacred Heart Church on Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.
Published by Arizona Daily Star from Oct. 25 to Oct. 27, 2019.