Barbara Cleary. CONTRIBUTED

Longtime educator pays it forward for future generations

Motivated by her faith and a family tradition of giving, Barbara Cleary shared with Michael, her husband of 50 years, a deep commitment to education and to helping others.

The founders and former owners of PQ Systems, a software development firm, the Clearys both received Ph.D.s from the University of Nebraska. In addition to supporting nonprofit organizations and area schools through their Dayton Foundation funds, they have enjoyed a long association with the Miami Valley School. Michael served on the board from 1990 to 2014, and Barbara has been a member of the English Department since 1972.

Q: You’ve enjoyed a long career in education. What motivates you to continue teaching?

A: Teaching young people offers a life that is enriched in ways that cannot be measured by bank statements or assets. The energy that students bring to the classroom and to their own learning is an inspiration to those who have the opportunity to participate in it. Developing relationships with students and with amazing colleagues in an environment that encourages lifelong learning is the ultimate in satisfying human experiences.

Q: What inspires you about the Greater Dayton community?

A: We came to Dayton years ago because we could feel a sense of community in regional planning efforts, in Dayton’s university environment, the area’s commitment to parks and recreation, and efforts to improve education.

Q: What drives you to give both your time and dollars to charity?

A: A sense of the shoulders that we all stand on. Earlier generations were responsible for the education that my sons received. Earlier planners recognized opportunities for development of outstanding trails for cycling and walking. The privileges I enjoy were assured by the dedication of those who worked for future generations. I have four sons, six grandsons and one granddaughter — I need to think of future generations to assure that they have the opportunities that I enjoy.

Q: What nonprofit organizations or causes do you care about most?

A: I’m committed to supporting education, as well as to organizations that help those whose voices are not heard, like the homeless and the hungry. I support Miami Valley School and DECA in their development of future generations of leaders, St. Vincent de Paul services for the homeless, the Dayton Foodbank to relieve hunger for our neighbors, and St. Leonard Benevolent fund for services to low-income seniors. I also support environmental organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Fund and Rails to Trails Conservancy.

Q: How did you first learn about The Dayton Foundation?

A: I’m not sure exactly, it seems as if I’ve always known about the Foundation.

Q: How does The Dayton Foundation help you help others?

A: When I see the way the Foundation manages my funds and supports the community through its own funding efforts, I feel inspired to contribute in ways that may help others.

Q: Why is helping others so important to you?

A: We are all human; I have been fortunate in my life by the grace of God. Others are not so fortunate, and our role as human beings demands that we support them.

Q: What advice can you share about giving to the community?

A: Don’t wait to help others or just provide for them in your will! You can experience the benefits of giving when you make contributions that are put to life in ways that you can see for yourself.

Q: How would you complete this sentence, “My giving makes me feel____”?

A: … deep gratitude that I can give.

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The Dayton Foundation has been helping people help others since 1921 by managing charitable funds, awarding grants to nonprofits and launching community initiatives. Contact the Foundation at (937) 222-0410 or visit