Founder Tom McCleary
Eastside Republican Club
P.O. Box 361025
Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236
March 31, 1926 - May 8, 2011
Thomas R. McCleary, Jr.
Founding Eastside Republican Club member Thomas R. McCleary, 85, died unexpectedly on Sunday, May 8, 2011. A memorial service was held May 15 at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church in Grosse Pointe Farms.
Months before his final illness, McCleary proudly recalled the group's formation in 1992 saying, “We're in our 19th year.” He noted that Grosse Pointe Park's Andrew Richner was another who was instrumental in launching the ERC.
Over the years, "Tom," as he was known, actively shouldered many responsibilities with the Club, including several terms as its chairman. In January 2011 he was reelected vice chairman.
Ritchner's Tribute to McCleary
“He never missed one of these meetings,” said Andrew Ritchner, in a touching tribute on May 17 to his friend Thomas R. McCleary, Jr.
“Tom is here tonight -- he is in your hearts,” continued Ritchner.
It was the first Eastside Republican Club meeting held following McCleary's sudden death on May 8.
With Ritchner and others, McCleary founded the Eastside Republican Club in 1992.
Reflecting on McCleary's impact on the community, Ritchner said, “Tom McCleary was one of the most influential Republican leaders in Grosse Pointe.”
“His legacy is this club, and it will continue.”
McCleary's Legacy Memorialized
Among the contributions of the late Thomas R. McCleary, Jr., was launch of the Eastside Republican Club-Political Action Committee.
With that in mind, club member John Stempfle of Grosse Pointe during the May 17 ERC meeting proposed that the name of the PAC be amended to honor McCleary.
His proposal was adopted, naming it the Tom McCleary ERC-P.A.C.
While the Club itself, does not provide financial assistance to any candidate, the ERC-P.A.C. was established to perform that function with funds generated expressly for that purpose.
Of his early involvement, McCleary said, “We believed a monthly forum would keep Republicans informed on local and state issues, and keep our membership enthused between elections.”
A resident of Grosse Pointe Farms, McCleary placed a high value on ERC involvement because, as he liked to put it, “I believe in Republican principles.”
In addition to service as a founding member, past ERC chairman, and 2011 vice chairman, McCleary also served as membership chairman, ERC Review editor, and a director of the Club's Political Action Committee.
Reflecting on McCleary's contribution to the ERC, chairman Jenny Nolan reflected, “Tom was the heart of the Eastside... As membership chair, Tom was tireless (and relentless!) in making sure our members were signed up and paid up.”
She noted, “He wanted to be sure we kept the group vibrant and worked to bring in younger members. He was adamant that the most important route to election of Republican candidates was through the grass roots. To that end, he was a constant volunteer and encouraged others to volunteer. It is impossible to list everything Tom did to promote the Eastside Republican Club and make it work. He will be irreplaceable.”
He was also an active member of the 13th District Republican Executive Committee, and the Republican State Committee, Lansing, where he served on the policy subcommittee.
Expressing the sentiments of many who knew Tom, 13th District chairman Krista L. Haroutunian said, "He was an extremely important fixture in the District and the community, and he will be sorely missed by the ERC and the District. Tom was one of the hardest working Republicans that I have ever known, and was one of the people we all relied on for institutional memory and wisdom for our District."
John Chouinard, immediate past chairman of the Eastside Republican Club, eulogized, "Grosse Pointe Republicans lost a very special person in Tom McCleary. Tom has worked tirelessly for almost 20 years for our club, in addition to the many other positions he held within the local and statewide Republican party."
"Tom promoted the Republican principles and as part of that quest did a great job in lining up excellent speakers for our Eastside Republican Club meetings. The general public was always invited to hear these speakers because Tom made a special effort to announce the speakers and the meeting information in the local press. His continual hard work and contribution to our club and to the statewide Republican party will be dearly missed," Chouinard said.
After his retirement from an executive position with an automotive supplier, McCleary enjoyed involvement in a number of pursuits including, sports, travel, investing, gardening and reading.
He is survived by his wife, Ann, a daughter, Kathy, who lives in Falls Church, Virginia, and a son, Tom, who lives in Oakland, California. He cherished his frequent visits with his four granddaughters.