Remembering Town Commissioner Buster Cleary

J.C “Buster” Cleary died at his home this past weekend at the age of 77.  He was a long serving Mocksville town board member, former county commissioner, and a man many remember as having a big heart.  There were few in town who didn’t know him and even fewer who didn’t know of him.

When Buster attended the monthly town meetings he almost always brought along his beloved toy poodle that would sit quietly in his lap.

“He was a commissioner with the town when I first started here,” Town Manager Christine Bralley says.  “He’s been here my entire tenure.  And he usually always had something to say to make us laugh.  He always wanted to help people… he really did.”

Mayor Francis Slate knew Buster since 1960 and remembers when he lived on Avon Street, neighbors divided by one house.  He and his wife, Gwen, were good neighbors,” Slate says.

Slate remembers Buster’s early career as a car salesman for Pennington Chevrolet, before opening Cleary Auto Sales.

“I bought a couple of Chevrolets from Buster back in his early days.”

Slate and Bralley also remember Buster and his fondness for good food.

“He could use the most descriptive adjectives to describe things… he would enunciate words like de-li-cious to describe certain foods,” Bralley remembers.

The mayor recalled a trip that he, Buster, and others took to Washington, D.C. some years back.  “Buster had two suitcases.  One had his clothes and wing tip shoes in it, and the other was full of food, cheese, crackers and drinks,” Slate said.  “He was a real character.”

Bralley says that Cleary had a deep appreciation for  flowers and often admired the ones growing in local yards.  “If anyone was receiving a recognition at one of the meetings he always wanted flowers given to them,” Bralley says.  “If the recipient was a man, he always wanted the wife to be recognized and given flowers. “

Slate said some time back a group went to a restaurant and Cleary had a page of Rose stickers.  “He had a piece of paper with roses on it and he wanted to put one on the waitress.  He was a happy, full of life guy in those days.“

When Cleary had to make a trip to the hospital Bralley came to check on him.  She found him waiting to see the doctor.  “He was lying there with his hospital gown on and his feet sticking out from the sheet.  He wouldn’t let them take off those wing tm shoes because he told them he wasn’t going to be there long enough to take his shoes off.”

Cleary also served in civic and fraternal organizations.

He was a member of Mocksville Lions Club for 25 years and was a member of Mocksville Moose Lodge for 28 years.

Cleary became a Mason in 1963 and was active as a Shriner.

Mark Hancock, director of Davie EMS, said that Cleary helped him when he became a Mason in 1996.

“He was always willing to help somebody,” Hancock says, “He had a bog heart.”

Hancock says that Cleary was always working to help the Shriners and for several years he was the top seller in their ham fundraiser and worked yearly at the Masonic Picnic.

“He server the community.  He served on the town board and the county commissioners,” Hancock says, “He helped a lot of people.”

For more than 30 years of town meetings Cleary usually brought along his dog.  Over the  years there were poodles named Sparky, Coco, and Hershey who attended town meetings.

Cleary’s last canine companion was Reese, a small black poodle who was always by his master’s side.

“There was a public hearing on a zoning issue some time back and there were lots of out of town people,” Bralley said.  “One person commented afterwards and said that was the first public hearing they’d attended with a poodle and that he was better behaved than some commissioners they’d seen.”

“There will never be anybody like Buster,” Slate said.

A funeral service was conducted at 2 PM today, February 1st, 2012 at Eaton Funeral Chapel.
This article was re-printed from the Davie County Enterprise ~ Written by Jackie Seabolt.

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  1. #1 by Jeff White on February 1, 2012 - 6:30 pm

    I will always remember Buster. Even though it has been 20 year since I worked with him. You never forget anyone as kind hearted and as funloving as Buster. Buster would tell sparky to come over to me and get me, Sparky ran right over and did his best. Buster loved Davie County and all of its citizens, he will be greatly missed.

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