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Columbia Missourian

Sandra McCleary loved dogs, volunteered at nursery school

By Madeline Kennedy
April 29, 2013 | 9:50 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Sandra McCleary loved dogs. She and her five-pound rat terrier, Moose, were attached at the hip.

“The reason she named him Moose was because she wanted him to know that he was a big dog, too,” said Mary Posner, Mrs. McCleary’s sister-in-law.

Sandra Lee Hollis McCleary of Jefferson City died Saturday, April 27, 2013. She was 75.

Mrs. McCleary was born on Sept. 13, 1937, to Lee and Ruth Hollis.

Her father died when she was a small child. Her mother later married Harrison Cummins, an MU engineering professor. The family moved to Gainesville, Fla., and spent summers in Wildwood, N.J., before moving back to Columbia.

She married John Rigby McCleary with whom she had one son, Randolph, before they moved to Jefferson City where John Rigby McCleary had taken a job as a caseworker at the Missouri Department of Corrections.

After her husband died, their boxer, Bruno, began to take care of her just as John Rigby McCleary would have wanted, according to her sister-in-law, Mary Posner.

In the early 1970s, she volunteered as a nursery school teacher at Grace Episcopal Church. She was also active in the Beta Sigma Phi sorority.

In 1976, she began working as an admissions clerk at Charles Still Hospital, the job she held until she retired.

“She was one of the sweetest, most loyal sister-in-laws one could have,” Posner, who is the sister of Mrs. McCleary's husband, said. “She was an absolutely beautiful person.”

James Northrop, who was married to Mrs. McCleary's sister, Betty Lou, also had fond memories of Mrs. McCleary as a sister-in-law.

“She was my favorite little sister-in-law,” said James Northrop. “She was very successful, a very capable young lady.”

Sandra McCleary is survived by her son, Randolph McCleary; her sister-in-law, Mary McCleary Posner; and her brother-in-law, James Northrop of Latham, New York; nieces and a nephew; and many great-nieces, great-nephews and cousins.

Her husband, John Rigby McCleary, and her beloved sister, Betty Lou Northrop, died earlier.

A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Columbia Cemetery, 30 E. Broadway.

In lieu of any tributes or flowers, the family asks that a donation be made to any dog rescue organization of choice.

Condolences can be posted at