Johnson City - Jody O'Leary, educator and Master Gardener, died Thursday, May 20, 2021, at James G Memorial in Johnson City, New York.
Jody was born Clara Johan Welling on December 22, 1934 in Detroit. She had a twin brother named Joe (1934-1980) and their parents were Mary Johan Murray (1907-1935) and Rudy Welling (1907-1980).
The twins were two weeks old when Mary died of pneumonia. They lived with their grandmother Clara E Murray (1879-1942) who died when they were 12. From there they lived with Rudy, who worked in the auto motive industry and raised them as a single father.
Jody graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1958. The following year she married Leo O'Leary (1932-1991) and started teaching kindergarten in Detroit.
Leo and Jody moved to Broome County NY in 1960 because of his job with IBM. They had their son John in 1964 and divorced in 1966.
Jody continued teaching kindergarten and pre-K in the Main-Endwell school district until retiring in 1996.
She bought her house in Vestal NY in 1970, where she lived, raised her son and gardened until selling it in 2019.
After retiring she pursued her lifelong love of gardening by returning to school and becoming a Master Gardener in 1998. She volunteered at Waterman Conservation Education Center and Cutler Botanic Gardens. Her area of expertise was ornamental grasses which ultimately dubbed her "The Grass Lady."
She is survived by her loving son John and son-in-law Tim Morano, and her nephews Joel and Loren Welling.
Jody was a student of the universe. She was mesmerized by the natural world, loved animals, plants and children. She had an open heart and mind and and a natural curiosity that informed everything she did.
Her unconditional love and support were a huge source of inspiration and strength for those who loved her.
Jody died of lymphoma, peacefully in her sleep. She was 86.
Donations can be made in her honor to Cutler Botanic Gardens.
A Memorial Tree was planted for Clara
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Coleman & Daniels Funeral Home Inc