John Cleary, 52, of Fargo died Tuesday September 4, 2012 in his home.

John Walter Cleary was born to David and Rosemary (Crummy-Kennelly) Cleary on November 20, 1959 in Fargo.  He graduated from Shanley High School in 1979 and Minnesota State University Moorhead with a degree in Fine Arts.  John was a very gifted artist.  He worked for years as a waiter and served as landlord for his property.

His varied interests included a love of music and baseball, especially the Twins.  John was a devoted fan to Johnny Cash and baseball legend Roger Maris.  He had a wonderful sense of humor and was a superb story-teller.   He always chuckled when told he was “Rosemary’s baby.”   He was a loved brother and a favorite uncle to his many nieces and nephews. 

Survivors include his sisters, Marlys Pedrick (Bruce) Wisconsin; Colleen Bassett (Thomas) Michigan; Regina Mandy (Scott) Fargo; Catherine Cleary-Ordal (Todd) Colorado;  brother, Michael Cleary (Sue)Fargo; Step-Siblings, Patrick Kennelly Fargo, Bill Kennelly (Sharon) Wisconsin; Jean Fernandez (Ruben) California; and Jack Kennelly (Doreen) Fargo.

John was preceded in death by his parents and step-father, James Kennelly.

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  1. Washington DC Regina,

    My mom sent me a copy of the funeral program and the program mentioned a video/slide tribute to John would be played at the funeral. Would it be possible to put that tribute on you tube or email it to

    Kind Regards,
    Craig Gross

  2. To John’s Family, thank you for sharing him with us. He was my college boyfriend and, luckily, we stayed friends after college. I didn’t see this day coming, to be sure. We had our first date at Ralph’s after painting class. He won my heart over a game of quarters! We drove to the cities for a Twins game and he climbed the church near the stadium. He got me backstage to meet Todd Rundgren and get his autograph after the concert. What can I say?

    Heartfelt condolences! Love, Carrie

  3. Fargo North Dakota
    Dear Friends of John Cleary:
         On behalf of the entire Cleary/Kennelly family we would like to extend a sincere and heart felt thank you to all John’s friends and loved ones for their wonderful outpouring of love and remembrances of John. We were truly touched by your attendance at his prayer and funeral services and your very inspiring tributes to our brother John. We regret that we were unable to contact each one of you with our personal thanks but we want you to know that your attendance, gifts, comments, and prayers were so appreciated. Masses are being offered and donations have been given in John’s name to some worthwhile charities that we feel John would be pleased to support. John’s short life was enriched by the people he knew and loved. He will be missed but he will live on in the memories of each one of you. Thank you and God bless you.

    The Cleary/Kennelly Family,
    Marlys, Colleen, Mike, Gina, Cathy, Pat, Bill, Jean, Jack and our families

  4. Moorhead MN
    We will miss John’s 4th of July drop by. Carrie and Tom and I join you in celebrating John’s life.

  5. Moorhead MN
    Carrie and I grieve with you over the loss of your brother and uncle. John was an occasional visitor to our family in the last few years and we tried to keep in touch. Our prayers are with you and John.

  6. Fargo ND
    Sorry to hear you left us way to soon. I’ll never forget the great talks we had. Now you can build your own ” Yellow Submarine “. Peace be with you, John.

  7. Fargo North Dakota
    Deepest Sympathies to your Family and Friends, John. I feel fortunate to have known you! You were always so nice and kind whenever I saw you-you always remembered I was Kevin’s sister and would smile and chat awhile. I loved going to the Mandarin- you were great to talk to…you will be missed!
    Colleen Moriarty

  8. Chicago ILAlthough it’s been many years since I have talked to John. My memories recall evening after evening of side splitting laughter and fun. He will always hold a special place in my heart and I will miss him.

    I’ll meet you on the other side John! Sheila Caswell

  9. Moorhead Mn Dear John we will greatly miss you. We missed seeing you on the fourth of July. You always made us laugh. I remember your saying “so you going to marry it”? If we would say we loved something. And “Choy!”. You had a style all your own. John we love you and pray for you and your family. You were a gentle beautiful spirit. I’m sorry I didn’t get to see you lately. Later John. Peace be with you.

  10. How lucky we were to have had John in our lives and as a part of our journey!!

    I was just telling my daughter what a great group of friends I had growing up and John was most certainly part of that group. Without a doubt, the sun will shine a little less brightly now that he’s gone.

    Prayers and blessings to his family.


  11. Lidgerwood ND
    Since i heard of your passing i keep going back to all of the fun times my sister Jodi and i had when she lived in your apartment building. Those were surely the good old days!!!!! For sure! I remember your great sense of humor and how you could always make me laugh. Going to the empire with you brings back fond memories too. I am so glad that i ran into you a few years ago and we got to have a beer together and visit at Dempsey’s. I will never forget you that is for sure. I will not say goodbye but see you later John!

  12. I will be unable to attend John’s service and feel very sad I will be unable to pay my personal respects to John and his family. I am posting twice on his wall here as I feel like we have lost a person who was such a nice guy even though the world didn’t always beat to his drum. I spent a lot of time with John and my mind swims with all his chatter and how he would scold me for all the stupid stuff we did together. The last time I saw him he was the landlord and he gave me a tour of his apartment. I told him to clean his pad up so the ladies would be more impressed, as always he heard me but not sure if he was listening. John had his own way of doing things. RIP John…

    John’s world and terms:

    *You were a unit to John, a big unit, a little unit, so on

    *John drank raw eggs for dinner like Rocky before a night on the town after doing 500 pushups

    *John’s room at his mom’s house was like a museum of cool stuff

    *John was so depressed when John Lennon was shot, I felt like such a non music person in that my grief was not nearly as deep as John’s

    *John was the fastest kid in 6th grade at Holy Spirit

    *If I had a dime for every time he called me a whus (sp) I would be very wealthy

    *John lived on cereal at times

    *John’s cat “fraidy” could spend hours chasing the flashlight beam with John being entertained as well

    *John’s imitation of his Step dads voice was brilliant (many times starting with *&%$
    John fill in the blank)

    *John had a way of describing his art classes that were too funny, especially his nude model classes

    *John had so many unique sayings I could not even start to remember, but they made us all laugh over and over

    *John’s Mom was so loving of him it was incredible

    *John would deplete all the butter knives in his moms silverware drawer to start the grem, the knifes would clang around on the floor in the back

    *John could ice skate backwards which made him cool

    *John wore skinny jeans before people even knew what they were

    As I can’t be at the service coming from DC any old friends can tell me how it goes at

  13. Moorhead MnJohn, there are no words to describe how much I miss you. I’ll always love you and keep you in my heart forever! My condolences to the family. May God be with you. Rest in peace my dear John. I love you so much.

  14. vienna vaI was so saddened to hear of Johns passing. I had not seen John for many years. We spent a lot ot time together both at Holy Spirit and when I returned to Minnesota
    for college in the 80’s. John was his own man who had style in how own way too. His nick name was 5’clock John because many times it was 5am before John would call it a night after a big night in the AMC Gremlin with no back window in -25 degree weather. John would get so frustrated with math homework but could draw like a master. He played Alice Cooper in the air guitar band contest like no one else. John could do the elvis lip and shake his legs like Elvis as well as back flip outside the bar at 2am (if needed). Only person I ever knew who could ride a unicycle. John loved music and art and kids. God Bless John and his family.

  15. Coleharbor ND
    John was a very GIFTED artist, gentle soul and kind human being. I’m surprised and deeply saddened by his loss. While years have passed since I last saw him and many things were left unsaid back then, I’ve carried many fond memories of him with me over the years. Good-bye beautiful one. I love you and you will be missed by many. -Kim

  16. Fergus Falls MN
    I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of our cousin John. He was much to young to pass. He had so much to look forward to. He has a good family and the wonderful hobby of Art. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  17. Minneapolis I haven’t seen John in a few years, but the man cracked me up. I’ve known him since we worked at the China Doll and he was very close with my Cossette family. I count myself fortunate to have been able to call him friend.

  18. Dear Regina & the entire Cleary family,

    My deepest condolences to you all at the passing of John. Losing a sibling is so difficult, ..and being your youngest brother makes it especially hard. I’m keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers at this difficult and sad time. I have such fond memories of your family from my time at Shanley.

  19. Started working with John when I was still in High School. Spent a lot of evenings at the Empire, belly to the bar watching the end of many twins games. Good times and some great memories!

    Shine On You Crazy Diamond!!

  20. fargo ndYou will be so missed by many John, You were my very first Landlord and very laid back kind of a guy!You are safe in Heaven being” Rosemarie’s baby” My fond memories of you will last a Lifetime! God bless to all of your family.

  21. Niwot COI had the honor of getting to know John when he visited his sister Catherine (my dear, dear friend) in Colorado. Always looked forward to seeing him on those visits. It is said when people leave this world, we will forget what they said and what they did – but we will never forget the way they made us feel. John had a special way of connecting with people on a very down to earth and genuine level. You will be greatly missed here, but Heaven will certainly be a much more fun place with you there!
    God speed John Cleary!

  22. Chevy Chase MD Uncle John was an idol…always the fun one growing up. It warms my heart to see how many folks he touched in his short life. I’m sure he’s up there now getting autographs from all the greats. Rest in peace John.

  23. Northville MIDearest family of John Cleary,

    I never knew John in person but I feel I know your heart and soul from your dear sister, Colleen. I knew you were a unique and strong person, one of many talents and great LOVE. You fought the fight of life and now God has called you home. May your new life be full of peace and happiness as you meet our Lord and reunite with your loving parents . Rosemary, David and Jim. Please know you have been in my prayers and know you will be deeply missed by your siblings. What a beautiful testimony from your many friends. GOD BLESS YOU, JOHN.
    May you rest in peace, Peggy and Mike

  24. On behalf of all the staff at Dempsey’s, we would like to send our condolences to John’s family. John was a quirky, funny, caring and kind soul and he left this world much too soon. He was a friend to us all and had a personality like no other! We will miss you, John!

  25. Fargo ND
    Already miss my friend John. So many good times together ! God bless you John, I will always remember your love of music and Twins baseball .Godspeed old friend.

  26. Southfield MichiganThank all of you for your warm and kind remarks about John. I am his second oldest sister. It is hard to bury our baby brother, the youngest of all six of us. The world will never be the same again with John no longer in it. We will bury him with our mother. “Rosemary’s baby” will now see his beloved mother, and father, and God.

  27. Moorhead MN
    I am so sad! John was so amazing!
    He was such a great friend and I am going to miss him alot!
    GOD bless John and my deepest sympathy to John’s family.
    I love you John!!!!!!

  28. Tucson AZ
    It’s been many, many years since I last saw John. I’m saddened to hear of his death and will always remember him fondly.

  29. Columbia SCWhat a huge loss for all who were blessed to have known John, no matter how short or long you were in our lives we can all agree Johnny boy you made our hearts smile…Love ya friend…?

  30. West Fargo ND
    Graduated from Holy Spirit then from Shanley with you! You of course were funny in fact I had to get the 8th grade graduation pictures out!!! You truely were a gift!! Right now my only regret is that I didnt spend enough time with you in our later years!!! You will leave great memories in alot of our hearts.

  31. Fargo ND
    To my old Buddy John the air guitar master, we had many fun times on college street with the Feist brothers and Monte. RIP.

  32. Langdon ND
    I also graduated with John in the Shanley Class of 1979. I have may fond memories of the days at Shanley with John. I don’t think I ever saw him in a bad mood he was just always happy. We sure had a lot of fun back in the day! John, you will be missed by all who knew you. RIP my friend.

  33. Cannon Falls MN
    , Remmbering so many memories we all had at Shanley,especially the days we would walk across the street to your MOMs house and you my friend would make a bunch of us grilled cheese , always a happy go lucky preson to be around…Prayers to your Family John…

  34. Fargo ND
    So very sorry to hear of Johns passing. Boy did we used to have fun! As the song goes, “Only the good die young”. John made an impression on many. The 80’s were an amazing time and John fit right in with his keen sense of style. Good bye John, take a rest. We will see you at another time.

  35. Mali, Washington From Holy Spirit to Shanley we shared many classes together, and many laughs. You always brought laughter to your friends and classmates. John you will be missed by many! I pray you find peace on your journey.
    R.I.P John.
    Rhonda Hinsperger and family

  36. Moorhead MN
    `John was the best! I have many fond memories of John. He will be missed by many! I just at a losss for words, John was a wonderful person!!!! Nels & I will always have a place for him in our hearts!

  37. Fargo N.D
    , From freinds at Holy Spirit to Shanley to later in life, I could always count on having a real and meaningful conversation with John. He was more than my friend he was family.
    He always asked how my family and I were doing. How my children were (by name). What talent!
    I wish John many autographs of rock stars that have gone before him in heaven! I wish him the peace I know he will find in heaven.
    Most of all I want John’s family to know that I have many memories that I will cherish. I will forever be grateful and blessed for knowing him.
    Keep on drawing John! Heaven has another artist!

  38. Dent Mn.John- You were “the best there ever was in the Game”. My heart is broken to know that I will never see you here again. The world is a little bit colder without you. Thanks for letting me be part of your life, I enjoyed it. We had some wonderful times together, lots and lots of laughs. I will miss you friend.

  39. Fargo ND
    Ah, my friend John….where do I start? We went to Shanley together and I remember the red, death-trap Gremlin he drove blasting tunes and having fun! John could make anyone laugh and always brought smiles to people’s faces. His art talent was awesome. He will be greatly missed!

  40. Minneapolis MnMy friend I will miss you So MUCH!
    No one could make me laugh harder than you. We had 35 + Years together and it was a Great Ride.
    I hope you find the peace in Heaven you never attain in life. I love you my
    Friend. We will see you soon.
    Your “Best Girl”

  41. I can hear John’s laugh echoing through my mind to my heart. Oh how he made me laugh and everyone. John had a heart of gold that warmed you. Being around him was like magic, he just made you feel so good. The thought a John just makes me smile and AlWAYS will. I too say John’s catch phases. As I raise my hand spread all my fingers apart and do the “Cleary”, heres to you John!!! I will love and miss you forever!

  42. Columbia SCJohnny boy…you always made me laugh especially in those darn highschool classes we had to suffer through! I’m so blessed to have had you as a friend you will be deeply missed:-( Love Ya Johnny…Susan Lindemoen AKA Lucy! I know that will make you smile!

  43. Fargo ND
    I went through Shanley with John and I must say he was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. Very down to earth, friendly, and happy. He was a great person I was able to call “friend”.

  44. Fargo ND
    I hadn’t seen John for many years but, we grew up in the same neighborhood for a period of time and ran into each other several times over the years, I knew him as a full of life kind person and our impromtu meetings will be missed,,,RIP JOHN!