In memory of
Jack R. Clary
In memory of
Jack R. Clary
Clary, Jack R. 9/8/1932 - 8/25/2020 In his nearly 88 years, Jack lived life to the fullest, passing peacefully at home with wife Nancy by his side. Born into the Depression in a Piggott, Arkansas barber's chair, he never could be held back. Jack, PaPa, Grandpa has been our loyal friend and sage, entertainer, appreciator of all things wild, demanding yet compassionate promoter of taking responsibility for our own choices. A fierce sense of duty, blue-collar upbringing and respect for people of all walks, his rather unique disposition meant he could interact well with about anybody and rise to about any occasion, generously. Jack's Missourian parents were Audry, warm-hearted, fun-loving (pig calling champion and best chicken and dumplings) and maid for the Piggott Ffeiffers including Ernest Hemingway, and father Shella ("Doc"), second shift union steward at Flint's #4 Chevrolet plant (living a half-block away boy Jack snuck through the crowd and National Guard machine guns to visit him in the 1936-37 all-historic plant sit-in strike that led to the UAW's unionization of the auto industry), National Beagle Trials Champion, stern of few words yet smiling squeezing your bicep. Burned, blinded and hospitalized for months as a boy, he survived quite fine: Eagle Scout, Interlochen (trombone), football captain and all-conference guard. Without enough funds for college, a Michigan State football scholarship came, then Central Michigan's coach coaxed him there, summer factory and odd jobs at school to see him through. He was the first in his family to attend college: National Debate Champion (besting a Harvard man), student body president, football captain and All-IIAC first team guard, athlete with highest academic average (oh, his still blew up in the dorm, paddled frat fanny of future sports announcer Dick Enberg), Alumnus 75th Anniversary, Centennial Awards. Drafted into the Army in 1954 (Medic), midway he married first wife, Joellen (deceased) after their CMU dating. They raised three children, Jack (Claire) (both lawyers), John (periodontist), who tragically passed in 2002, and Jennifer (Mitch Balingit) (both educators). For 29 years before they all had headed to college, he never missed a single musical, theatrical, or sporting event of theirs. Family life was full-on with his boundless interests, eclectic tastes, trust given once earned, and tenderness. Home overflowed with his coaching sons' football teams, dogs, books and discussions, his tickling the grand piano ivories with old standards to boogie woogie, singing along with Hank Williams, Switched On Bach, splitting a gut over Richard Pryor and George Carlin, art, Christmas shotgun at age 8, work-hard play-hard law firm partner parties, live-in African refugee and foster home children. Wanderlust abounded, trips often off beaten paths. Foremost to him with family and friends were our nation and founding principles. Binding out-of-print Sources of Our Liberties, he inscribed to his children, "These mean a great deal to me. They are, of course, our heritage. But more than that, they mark the pathways others have traveled so that we can now have freedom-the opportunity to choose. Guard it well." Post-Army and after U of M law school, lunch with Hal Sawyer and Platt Dockery of Warner Norcross & Judd opened the door. In his one suit he began June 1, 1959-less than an hour after his first child was born. Soon after, serving papers on a local turkey farm, recipient fleeing, he dove half-gainer into the bird crap, in that one suit-his fellow new hires' olfaction belied the dry cleaning, and thus began his penchant for finely tailored attire. Jack became a leading lawyer for employers in the labor law arena in Michigan and across the country, in 1969 forming Clary Nantz and Wood in Grand Rapids (one of the first "boutique" labor law firms). His good fortune, dogged and adept legal skills, and fidelity to get the job done for clients paved the way to a fulfilling career of over 50 years well into his seventies. He felt most privileged to be trusted with the high stakes of clients' dreams and their own hard work. He negotiated with legendary union leaders, Teamsters' Jimmy Hoffa and Joe Valenti, UAW's Owen Bieber and others. Labor relations can be contentious, enemies can be made, but "adversaries" sought his help, some a bit different: the UAW for its northern Michigan Black Lake retreat, and, likely Michigan's first divorce between gay men (unofficial then), a prominent union lawyer involved asked Jack to be present and secure a judge, and the amicable, formal proceedings went off without a hitch. Not timid of new ventures, Buster Mathis, two-time heavyweight world title boxing contender, was a client and family friend for years, Jack handling the fight business including with Muhammad Ali personally. Aggressive and blunt (or more flavored terms), provided it served the client's purposes, he also had rules about treating people right and a softer side, such as, "You never, ever box someone into a corner where they can't exit with their self-dignity;" or tears shed at the kitchen table just home dead-of-night because the unionized strikers (and their good families) had reached the point where they would not recoup financial losses and jobs could be lost. He and son Jack (despite a shared hardheaded gene) relished practicing law together for many years and adventures (hunting Alaska, Borculo to Mongolia). To cite some further achievements: Michigan Municipal League Employee Relations Committee chair and member for years; MML's Special Award of Merit; National League of Cities special presidential appointment to labor advisory committee; The Best Lawyers in America; represented Kent County over 30 years; made new law in many seminal Public Employment Relations Act cases; Michigan Bar's Labor Law Section Chair; American Bar Association Employer Chair, Subcommittee State & Local Government Bargaining & Employment Law for years; etc. He proudly served as an East Grand Rapids City Commissioner from 1973-79. Upon not running again, he said publicly, "I have tried talking to several women [to replace me]. The commission needs a feminine point of view." He served on numerous community boards and years as Michigan Chapter President of Safari Club International (SCI), counsel to SCI, receiving its international President's award, and was an MSU Master Gardener. Jack cherished education and constant learning (a steel trap for a brain), and his "retirement" years included teaching labor and employment law at GVSU, delighted and impressed by his students. In 1990, Jack and Nancy wed, and the family grew to include Nancy's mother (deceased), sister Sheila Ward-Lowe (Paul) and sons Bill and Dan Hansing (Roxanne) and their families. Bill and Dan meant so much to Jack, helpful and giving at every turn whether at the Pine River cabin or home. Week-long and numerous trips to the cabin, butchering game on the kitchen island, pitching 'shoes, musing or jawing around bonfires, golfing, and other frequent quality times are treasured by all. Jack and Nancy shared in the best of everyday and some exotic: never snowbirds, but travels and hunting worldwide (notably with South African Mark DeWet, to whom Jack was a father figure), gardening, preparing gourmet dinners and (always) wine, watching nature together or harvesting deer and turkeys on their property. Most important to Jack was having dear friends and family often gather at their home, most always a fire roaring, lively debate, and even impromptu song (throwing in a few bawdy ballads, ukulele and spoons). Jack had a special relationship with his son-in-law Mitch, often sharing deep conversations about making a lasting impact on family, community and the world. Jack was preceded in death by his brother and closest lifelong friend, Rudy Clary. He leaves behind his brother Dan Clary (Bonnie), grandchildren Max Clary, Jack Morgan Clary, Johanna and Katherine Balingit, Danielle Hansing, Lynne Hansing, Jack Wayne Hansing, and great grandson Cruz Hansing, and several nephews and nieces, all enriching his journey and he theirs. Due to the pandemic and restrictions, regrettably there will be no customary memorial service. Instead is our lengthy celebration written here, and we will honor him as we walk the woods, listen to jazz greats, cheer on our favorite teams, or read the longest book we can find. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to a charity of your choice in his honor and/or Trufant Friends c/o Mary Johnson, 1520 Como Lake Dr., Greenville, MI 48838.
View Full Obituary ›
Services Provided By
Hurst Funeral Home Inc
1801 W Washington St
Greenville, MI 48838
In memory of
Jack R. Clary
Clary, Jack R. 9/8/1932 - 8/25/2020 In his nearly 88 years, Jack lived life to the fullest, passing peacefully at home with wife Nancy by his side. Born into the Depression in a Piggott, Arkansas barber's chair, he never could be held back. Jack, PaPa, Grandpa has been our loyal friend and sage, entertainer, appreciator of all things wild, demanding yet compassionate promoter of taking responsibility for our own choices. A fierce sense of duty, blue-collar upbringing and respect for people of all walks, his rather unique disposition meant he could interact well with about anybody and rise to about any occasion, generously. Jack's Missourian parents were Audry, warm-hearted, fun-loving (pig calling champion and best chicken and dumplings) and maid for the Piggott Ffeiffers including Ernest Hemingway, and father Shella ("Doc"), second shift union steward at Flint's #4 Chevrolet plant (living a half-block away boy Jack snuck through the crowd and National Guard machine guns to visit him in the 1936-37 all-historic plant sit-in strike that led to the UAW's unionization of the auto industry), National Beagle Trials Champion, stern of few words yet smiling squeezing your bicep. Burned, blinded and hospitalized for months as a boy, he survived quite fine: Eagle Scout, Interlochen (trombone), football captain and all-conference guard. Without enough funds for college, a Michigan State football scholarship came, then Central Michigan's coach coaxed him there, summer factory and odd jobs at school to see him through. He was the first in his family to attend college: National Debate Champion (besting a Harvard man), student body president, football captain and All-IIAC first team guard, athlete with highest academic average (oh, his still blew up in the dorm, paddled frat fanny of future sports announcer Dick Enberg), Alumnus 75th Anniversary, Centennial Awards. Drafted into the Army in 1954 (Medic), midway he married first wife, Joellen (deceased) after their CMU dating. They raised three children, Jack (Claire) (both lawyers), John (periodontist), who tragically passed in 2002, and Jennifer (Mitch Balingit) (both educators). For 29 years before they all had headed to college, he never missed a single musical, theatrical, or sporting event of theirs. Family life was full-on with his boundless interests, eclectic tastes, trust given once earned, and tenderness. Home overflowed with his coaching sons' football teams, dogs, books and discussions, his tickling the grand piano ivories with old standards to boogie woogie, singing along with Hank Williams, Switched On Bach, splitting a gut over Richard Pryor and George Carlin, art, Christmas shotgun at age 8, work-hard play-hard law firm partner parties, live-in African refugee and foster home children. Wanderlust abounded, trips often off beaten paths. Foremost to him with family and friends were our nation and founding principles. Binding out-of-print Sources of Our Liberties, he inscribed to his children, "These mean a great deal to me. They are, of course, our heritage. But more than that, they mark the pathways others have traveled so that we can now have freedom-the opportunity to choose. Guard it well." Post-Army and after U of M law school, lunch with Hal Sawyer and Platt Dockery of Warner Norcross & Judd opened the door. In his one suit he began June 1, 1959-less than an hour after his first child was born. Soon after, serving papers on a local turkey farm, recipient fleeing, he dove half-gainer into the bird crap, in that one suit-his fellow new hires' olfaction belied the dry cleaning, and thus began his penchant for finely tailored attire. Jack became a leading lawyer for employers in the labor law arena in Michigan and across the country, in 1969 forming Clary Nantz and Wood in Grand Rapids (one of the first "boutique" labor law firms). His good fortune, dogged and adept legal skills, and fidelity to get the job done for clients paved the way to a fulfilling career of over 50 years well into his seventies. He felt most privileged to be trusted with the high stakes of clients' dreams and their own hard work. He negotiated with legendary union leaders, Teamsters' Jimmy Hoffa and Joe Valenti, UAW's Owen Bieber and others. Labor relations can be contentious, enemies can be made, but "adversaries" sought his help, some a bit different: the UAW for its northern Michigan Black Lake retreat, and, likely Michigan's first divorce between gay men (unofficial then), a prominent union lawyer involved asked Jack to be present and secure a judge, and the amicable, formal proceedings went off without a hitch. Not timid of new ventures, Buster Mathis, two-time heavyweight world title boxing contender, was a client and family friend for years, Jack handling the fight business including with Muhammad Ali personally. Aggressive and blunt (or more flavored terms), provided it served the client's purposes, he also had rules about treating people right and a softer side, such as, "You never, ever box someone into a corner where they can't exit with their self-dignity;" or tears shed at the kitchen table just home dead-of-night because the unionized strikers (and their good families) had reached the point where they would not recoup financial losses and jobs could be lost. He and son Jack (despite a shared hardheaded gene) relished practicing law together for many years and adventures (hunting Alaska, Borculo to Mongolia). To cite some further achievements: Michigan Municipal League Employee Relations Committee chair and member for years; MML's Special Award of Merit; National League of Cities special presidential appointment to labor advisory committee; The Best Lawyers in America; represented Kent County over 30 years; made new law in many seminal Public Employment Relations Act cases; Michigan Bar's Labor Law Section Chair; American Bar Association Employer Chair, Subcommittee State & Local Government Bargaining & Employment Law for years; etc. He proudly served as an East Grand Rapids City Commissioner from 1973-79. Upon not running again, he said publicly, "I have tried talking to several women [to replace me]. The commission needs a feminine point of view." He served on numerous community boards and years as Michigan Chapter President of Safari Club International (SCI), counsel to SCI, receiving its international President's award, and was an MSU Master Gardener. Jack cherished education and constant learning (a steel trap for a brain), and his "retirement" years included teaching labor and employment law at GVSU, delighted and impressed by his students. In 1990, Jack and Nancy wed, and the family grew to include Nancy's mother (deceased), sister Sheila Ward-Lowe (Paul) and sons Bill and Dan Hansing (Roxanne) and their families. Bill and Dan meant so much to Jack, helpful and giving at every turn whether at the Pine River cabin or home. Week-long and numerous trips to the cabin, butchering game on the kitchen island, pitching 'shoes, musing or jawing around bonfires, golfing, and other frequent quality times are treasured by all. Jack and Nancy shared in the best of everyday and some exotic: never snowbirds, but travels and hunting worldwide (notably with South African Mark DeWet, to whom Jack was a father figure), gardening, preparing gourmet dinners and (always) wine, watching nature together or harvesting deer and turkeys on their property. Most important to Jack was having dear friends and family often gather at their home, most always a fire roaring, lively debate, and even impromptu song (throwing in a few bawdy ballads, ukulele and spoons). Jack had a special relationship with his son-in-law Mitch, often sharing deep conversations about making a lasting impact on family, community and the world. Jack was preceded in death by his brother and closest lifelong friend, Rudy Clary. He leaves behind his brother Dan Clary (Bonnie), grandchildren Max Clary, Jack Morgan Clary, Johanna and Katherine Balingit, Danielle Hansing, Lynne Hansing, Jack Wayne Hansing, and great grandson Cruz Hansing, and several nephews and nieces, all enriching his journey and he theirs. Due to the pandemic and restrictions, regrettably there will be no customary memorial service. Instead is our lengthy celebration written here, and we will honor him as we walk the woods, listen to jazz greats, cheer on our favorite teams, or read the longest book we can find. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to a charity of your choice in his honor and/or Trufant Friends c/o Mary Johnson, 1520 Como Lake Dr., Greenville, MI 48838.
View Full Obituary ›
Services Provided By
Hurst Funeral Home Inc
1801 W Washington St
Greenville, MI 48838
888-303-5240 Need help ordering?
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