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Cleary, Bill

clearywSouth Burlington, VT
May 3, 2012

William Cleary died Thursday, May 3, 2012, in Pillsbury Manor, South Burlington. He is survived by his wife, Mary Francis "Roddy" O'Neil Cleary; two sons, Tom and Neil; foster daughter, Ry Nguon; and siblings, Thomas H. Cleary, Catherine Scharle, Margaret Dittmann and Daniel Quiery. Bill was born Dec. 12, 1926, in Detroit, Mich.

He served in the Navy from 1944-1946, entered the Jesuit order in 1947 and studied at Saint Louis University. He spent 22 years as a Jesuit, teaching literature, music and drama. In 1964, while teaching at Sogang University in Seoul, Korea, he wrote "Chun Hyang Song", a musical comedy based on a Korean folk tale. It was revived for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and again in 2006 at Seoul's Co-Ex Theater.

In the late 60's in New York City, he founded the Jesuit Writers Agency and co-founded Billy Budd Films, writing and producing educational short films. In 1969, he left the Jesuits and married Roddy. They settled in Vermont in 1976, opening Hopkins Bookshop at 136 Church St. in Burlington.

A prolific songwriter, Bill composed seven musicals and many other original songs; he also authored twelve books along with countless articles and book reviews. He was a vibrant member of the Burlington community and one of the founding members of Green Mountain Habitat For Humanity.

He and Roddy opened their home to a number of refugees, students, relatives and people in need. Most of all, he was well-loved for his wit, warmth, compassion, deep spirituality and joyful irreverence.

A memorial in his honor will be held on Saturday, May 12, 2012, at 2 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Society. Funeral arrangements by Steven C. Gregory & Son. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity, 300 Cornerstone Drive, Suite 335, Williston VT 05495.