Elmer T. McCleary

Elmer T. McCleary

Born:27 August 1878
Pine Grove Furnace, PA

Died:22 April 1930
Youngstown, Ohio

Spouse:Anna Jenkins

Children:Dorothy May
Elmer T. Jr

Elmer was born in Pine Grove Furnace, PA to John E. and Isabel Marks McCleary. John's family came to America from Dundee Scotland and he served as a drummer boy in the Union Army during the civil war. John worked for the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and was killed in an industrial accident. Elmer grew up in Carlisle and Harrisburg. He graduated from Penn State in 1901 with a degree in chemistry and metallurgy. After graduating he went to work for Diamond Steel Company in Wilmington, Delaware and then was hired by Carnegie Steel Company. Elmer married Anna Jenkins on February 1, 1904 and moved to Youngstown in 1906 to work on Carnegie's Ohio Works. Youngstown Sheet and Tube hired him as Chief Chemist that same year. When the first World War began, the Government Ordinance Department called upon him to help improve the steel used in artillery shells.[1] McCleary was active in many aspects of the civic life of Youngstown, including the YMCA. When the bus was not available to shuttle children to camp in 1924, he and other YMCA members volunteered to drive all 75 of them to camp, spend the night, and bring the previous sessions's campers home the next day.[2] He advanced rapidly at Youngstown Sheet and Tube, becoming Vice-President in 1926. He was hired by Republic Steel in 1928 and became a YMCA Trustee that same year. He was promoted to President of Republic Steel in 1930, the third largest American steel producer at the time.[3]

After a successful funding drive, construction began on McCleary Lodge in January of 1930.[4] Tragically, he would not live to see its completion. In April 1930 he had minor surgery to address an intestinal ailment that had plagued him for six years. He had the same surgery six years previous when the ailment began. He walked home after the surgery Sunday April 20th and felt “great.” He woke Monday to complications and was rushed to North Side Hospital. He passed away early Tuesday Morning, April 22 with his family by his side.[3] General Secretary Leonard T. Skeggs Sr. described Elmer as one of his best and closest friends, “McCleary was the most loyal friend to Youngstown that the city ever had. He was a great Christian Gentleman. He had done as much, if not more than any other person to help the YMCA.”[5]

The lodge named in his honor was dedicated on September 7, 1930. Elmer and the recently departed Eddie Farrell were eulogized. A bronze plaque was hung on the fire place in McCleary Lodge. The inscription read: “To the glory of God and the grateful memory of Elmer T. McCleary 1878-130, friend of youth, lover of the out of doors, trustee Youngstown YMCA, Chairman of the Camp Fitch Committee. [6]


1. a Butler, Joseph G., 1921. History of Youngstown and Mahoning County, Ohio; Volume 2. Chicago and New York, American Historical Society, pp.264.
2. a Youngstown Vindicator, July 21, 1924. 75 More Boys Journey to Camp Fitch for 3rd Period. Vindicator Printing Company.
3. a, b The Vindicator, April 22, 1930. Republic Head Taken by Death. Youngstown Vindicator, pp.1.
4. a The Vindicator, January 8, 1980. Years Ago. Youngstown Vindicator, pp.10.
5. a The Vindicator, April 22, 1930. McCleary is Mourned as "Finest Character". Youngstown Vindicator, pp.1.
6. a The Vindicator, September 8, 1930. Dedicate Fitch Memorials. Youngstown Vindicator, pp.4.