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Larry D. Cleary

Jan 11, 2023 (0)

Larry Dean Cleary, 81, of O'Neill, died Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023 at Avera St. Anthony's Hospital in O'Neill.

Visitation was held Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023 at Biglin's Mortuary in O'Neill with a Knights of Columbus rosary.

Funeral services were held Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023 at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in O'Neill. Fr. Bernard Starman officiated.

Burial was in the O'Neill Cemetery in O'Neill.

Memorials may be made to St. Patrick's Catholic Church, St. Mary's Catholic School or the Golden Age Senior Center, all in O'Neill in Larry's name.

Larry Cleary: 1941 – 2023. We see this cold, hard data on tombstones, but Larry's life wasn't just some ‘dash' between two dates; he had a deep, personal impact upon family and friends.

Our heart aches from the giant hole there now, as our Larry, with his pain-filled hands – hands of hard work and gruff love to hide his gentle heart, is gone. And though Larry is absent from his body, we now rejoice he is present with the Lord.

Larry was born in rural O'Neill on May 22, 1941, to John and Wynona (Breiner) Cleary.

Larry made his home on the Cleary family farm northwest of O'Neill and attended District 8, before enrolling at St. Mary's, graduating in 1958. As a youngster, he played football and was a Golden Gloves boxer, telling us he earned the nickname, “Canvas Back.”

Most people however, knew him as “Tubb.” After graduating from high school, Larry worked a couple of years on the family farm, before beginning a successful career at Niobrara Valley Electric from 1964-2001. As a respected lineman for over 25 years, Larry developed and cherished life-long friendships which continue to this very day.

On Oct. 14, 1980, after a long courtship, Larry married the love of his life Irene Brown, and they traveled frequently across the country together during the earthly years of their marriage. They were both accomplished bowlers and loved to hunt and fish.  But tragedy befell Larry and Irene when she was diagnosed with cancer, passing away in 1999. And yet, up to his death, Larry never took off his wedding ring.

One of the highlights during Larry and Irene's first year of marriage, was their purchase of the family farm, which continued in operation under Larry's stewardship. In 2017, Larry received the Nebraska Pioneer Farm Award from the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation, recognizing the long heritage of the Cleary Family Farm.

Larry was an active member of St. Patrick's Catholic Church, rarely missing a weekly service. 

In addition to hunting and fishing, he loved to shoot, and had quite the gun collection. Larry was also a big fan of rodeo and supported all local sports, both high school and college. And of course, all things Husker-related, including volleyball.  

Larry went through many hand-mixers during his life making chocolate fudge for neighbors and family at Christmastime. And his renown for chokecherry or plum jelly went far beyond O'Neill. Upon telling us in 2020 he wasn't going to make jelly anymore; we all treasured those last gifted jars.

But his biggest joy in later years was spending time with family and friends. Many of us relished our “windshield time” with Larry, as we traveled with him all over Nebraska, or to Kansas City, Colorado, South Dakota and many other distant points. This is where we learned the meaning of “re-mince,” a “Larry-ism” for “reminisce.” Or how to eat a “ham-buggher;” and, if we didn't know an answer to something, Larry would tell us to “OOGLE” it. After all, in Larry's language, the first “G” was silent in “GOOGLE.”

He rarely missed an important event in the lives of his family:  birthdays, baptisms, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, holiday dinners, “foo-ner-als.” No matter what time of year, or how far he had to drive, one could count on Larry being there. Only his last illness prevented him from joining family in Kansas City for Christmas 2022.

Larry is survived by his sister Barbara Loock of Fremont; sister-in-law Lenora Brown of Twin Falls, ID; 13 nieces and nephews Doug Loock, Patty (Mike) Fleek, Sherri (Stan) Tafoya, Wayne Loock, Lori (Jonathan) Swindell, Steve (Kim) Cleary, Jeff (Sarah) Cleary, Lisa (Pat Herring) Cleary, Troy Cleary, Jenny (Justin) Hilkemeier, Mardi (Allen) Oliver, Greg Brown, Curt (Kenni) Brown; and many other great-nieces and great-nephews.  

He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, his brother and sister-in-law Dick (Madge) Cleary, two brothers-in-law Richard Loock and Leonard Brown and a nephew Justin Brown.

A light went out in O'Neill with the passing of our beloved brother, uncle and friend. May the Lord grant eternal rest unto him and shine His everlasting light upon all of us who grieve our dear Larry Cleary.  



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