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Obituary - Martin F. Cleary

Martin F. Cleary

Date of Passing: March 16th, 2022

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Martin F. Cleary, 94, of Waterville, died Wednesday, March 16, 2022 at his home, with his loving family by his side. He was a retired newspaperman and postal employee.

He was born September 8, 1927, in Forge Hollow, the son of Francis Patrick and Blanche Rose Quillman Cleary and graduated from Waterville Central School, Class of 1945. In 1951, he received a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Mr. Cleary had three careers. He worked on daily newspapers for 35 years, on a weekly newspaper for 22 years and as a rural mail carrier for 29 years. For seven years he worked three jobs simultaneously.

His first newspaper job was as sports editor and general reporter for The Little Falls Evening Times from October 29, 1951 through March 17, 1956. From there he went to Watertown where he was a copy editor on The Watertown Daily Times from March 19, 1956 to September 25, 1959. He worked in a similar capacity for The Rochester Times-Union from October 5, 1959 to September 10, 1960.

On September 12, 1960, he began 26 years of employment at The Utica Daily Press. During that time he was a copy editor, assistant to the State Editor, assistant to the City Editor and was the last person to hold the position of State Editor, retiring on November 26, 1986.

His second career began April 10, 1967, when he was appointed substitute of record on RD1, a rural mail route out of The Waterville Post Office. He took the job to help out a cousin, the late Frank R. "Nick" Gibbons, the regular carrier on the route. Gibbons had been unable to find a substitute. Mr. Cleary succeeded Gibbons as regular carrier on February 14, 1976 and retired on May 3, 1996 after suffering a stroke on March 9 of that year.

His third career was with another newspaper. His wife Mary, acquired The Waterville Times on April 1, 1979. He wrote sports, headlines, photo captions, obituaries and laid out the pages on the weekly newspaper until May 15, 2001, when it was sold to Patricia Louise.

Mr. Cleary was a parishioner of St. Bernard's Church, Waterville, received the Immaculata Award from the Diocese of Syracuse in 2019, received the Pacesetter Award from the American Cancer Society for several years, received the New York Press Association Award for the Best Feature Story in 1993 and was a charter member and lifetime member of The Waterville Historical Society. Mr. Cleary was the driving force that established The Waterville Times Christmas Invitational Tournament in 1985. He was a former member of the old Little Falls Kiwanis Club, the Little Falls Varsity Club, the Little Falls Democratic Club and the Gaelic Society of Central New York.

He married Mary Joanne Congelo on July 15, 1957, in St. Bernard's Church. She died July 27, 2004.

He leaves a son, Stephen P.J. (Karen) Cleary of Waterville; three daughters, Martha (James S.) Sorce of Fairport, Mary Ann (Dr. Donald B.) Knapp of Sauquoit and Megan (Christopher W.) Toumbacaris of Camillus; 11 grandchildren; 2 great grandchildren; a sister-in-law, Dolores "Dee" Gurdo of New Hartford; and nieces, nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by a sister and brother-in-law, Patricia (John W.) Fleming; a brother-in-law, Anthony F. Gurdo, Sr.; and a sister-in-law, Ann "Bunny" Congelo.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, March 21, 2022 at 10 AM at St. Bernard's Church, Waterville. Spring interment will be in St. Bernard's Cemetery, Waterville. Calling hours will be Sunday from 2-4 and 7-9 at the Mark C. Bentz Funeral Service, Inc., 13 Oxford Road, New Hartford.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider St. Bernard's Church Memorial Fund, the American Cancer Society or for a scholarship fund to be established in his name at the Brothertown Scholarship Fund, PO Box 454, Waterville, NY 13480.


We first knew Martin in the early 1980s. We wondered when he slept, those days of juggling three jobs. I guess he paced himself. His words were measured in the same way. What a wit! I am so glad I knew him.
My deepest sympathy to all Martin and Mary's children and grandkids.
Judy Engle
Judy Engle

Dear Martha and family .
I happened to see this announcement of your Dad , Martha.
I was your 5th grade teacher at Memorial Park School . You were always a joy to have in class and I wanted you to know I still fondly think of my time with you .
With thoughts and prayers to you.


Barbara Spry Queirolo

Dear MaryAnn and family,
Our deepest sympathy for the loss of your dear father. I see where your incredible gifts of kindness and work ethic come, as both your Mom and Dad were so very special! We are blessed to have you share your gifts at St Patricks/StAnthonys Church.
John and Connie Griffin
Connie Griffin

Condolences to the Cleary Family. Fresh out of college,in the early '70's,I worked in the Newsroom of the OD and Daily Press for four years until leaving to join Law Enforcement. "Marty" stands out in my memory as being one of the most knowledgeable, genuine "nice guys". His calm, calculating demeanor was refreshing to, at times, a very hectic environment, rife with tension, in making three deadline editions. RIP Steve Graham
Stephen Graham

Knapp Family,

I was very sorry to hear about the passing of your beloved father, father-in-law, grandfather, great grandfather, brother-in-law, uncle and cousin, Martin.

I have added you and your family to my daily prayer list. And, when I attend mass I will add you and your family to our parish book of prayers.

May our good Lord watch over, bless, protect, comfort and console you and your family as you endure this difficult, trying and sad time in your lives.

My heart felt sympathy goes out to you and your family in your time of loss and sorrow.

Rob Sherman

Robert Sherman

We are so sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family.
Richie Bialek