Everett Charles McLeary, the second of two sons, was born to Lawrence and Elizabeth Hatcher McLeary on October 11, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois. His father, mother and brother Turron preceded him in death.
Everett was driven as a very small child to be successful, and never objected to a little hard work. Family members were amused that he would always be willing to sweep floors, draw pictures and run errands just to earn a few quarters from anyone willing to pay for his help. Even at the young age of six, Everett had an entrepreneurial spirit and an appreciation for money. Although his father died when he was just four years old, Everett was raised in a large, loving family. His mother Elizabeth, grandmother Lottie, older brother Turron, aunts, uncles and cousins all lived under one roof in the Bronzeville community, eventually relocating to the Woodlawn area in 1956. He attended Olivet Baptist Church as a very young child and later, around the age of 10, took it upon himself to be baptized at Parkside Baptist Church… somehow without his mother’s knowledge.
Everett attended Parkside Elementary School in the 1950s when African-Americans were just moving into the South Shore area. Always an intuitive child and wise beyond his years, Everett was quick to notice some of the inequities in how he was treated versus his white classmates. Despite his tender age, he was always vocal about the perceived injustices and was never shy about expressing his thoughts on the matter with teachers and administrators alike. Needless to say, his mother was often called up to the school to help “straighten things out.” As a teenager, Everett was highly independent. He always had a job and at the age of 15, got his first car. Heeding the advice of his favorite uncle Buster, Everett made sure that no matter where life took him, he would always have a “roof over his head, money in his pocket and wheels under his feet.” He stayed true to this advice throughout his life.
After graduating from Parkside in 1961, Everett went on to attend Hyde Park High School for three years and completed his education at Central YMCA High School in 1965. After a brief stint in the Illinois National Guard, Everett knew that in order to achieve the level of success he desired, he needed to attend college. Friends encouraged him to apply to the University of Illinois at Navy Pier, and after a few stops and starts, he completed his undergraduate degree in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago in 1972, followed by a Juris Doctorate in 1975 from DePaul University College of Law.
In 1968, Everett met Bonnie Millen and after a short, whirlwind courtship, married on December 29, 1968. To this union one child was born, Sherye Kristen. Their marriage lasted 50 years.
Everett had a distinguished career in a number of different fields that spanned over 50 years. At the age of 19 he started as a job counselor with The Woodlawn Organization, supervising gang members to redirect their energy into positive community engagement and gain workforce readiness skills. In 1968, he appeared before the United States Senate to respond to questions about sting operations of gang members by the Chicago Police Department. Tapping into that entrepreneurial spirit he developed as a little boy, Everett became a young business owner at the age of 22 when he and a friend bought the Pickwick Ltd. men’s clothing store in South Shore. At the age of 28, because of his take charge attitude and creative strategic ideas, Everett was selected to serve as the Superintendent for the Bureau of Employment Security for the State of Illinois. After years in private law practice, Everett hit his employment stride throughout the 80s and 90s, taking on several challenging positions in the corporate and business sectors while simultaneously working as a Commissioner for the Court of Claims. When he set his sights on a new endeavor, nothing stopped him from meeting the people who could help him achieve his goals. Using the badge name “ECM 4,” Everett was one of the few African American commodity traders on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and in his last three years there, served as a Senior Attorney concentrating on contracts, real estate and human resources. He then moved on to serve as a Staff Attorney for the Chicago Board of Education and lastly, as Chief Legal Counsel for the Village of Dolton.
Everett was a free spirit; some might say he liked to color outside of the lines. He didn’t seem interested in clubs or organizations with rules and expectations. He liked to do things “his way.” Everett had incredible intuition, seemingly unafraid of any situation he found himself in and always managed to show up right when someone needed help. On more than one occasion he interceded a physical altercation between people; wrestled a home intruder to the ground & waited for police to arrive; saved a neighbor from a life-threatening situation and put out many kitchen fires…literally. He always rooted for the underdog; loved to help people and frequently made contacts for friends and family to get jobs any place he had a connection. Without any formal training, Everett was a self-taught electrician, plumber and carpenter, frequently assisting those he hired to do repairs and many times, teaching them a new way to fix the problem. He was an excellent cook, prepared all of the holiday meals and was known for his famous dressing and brisket of beef. He loved to socialize with friends and spent many evenings at his favorite watering holes, The Raven and The Ramada Inn Lounge. Everett loved to spar with ideas, his mind was incredibly sharp (as was his tongue) and he could talk circles around just about anyone. He was quick to defend, correct and challenge his associates, colleagues and breakfast buddies on a variety of topics, usually something related to current events or politics. To some of his daughter’s friends, he was their “other dad,” often teasing them and offering words of wisdom to make sure they always knew how to “read the streets.” Everett was a master negotiator and found great satisfaction in haggling any and every one down until he was satisfied with the price or deal. He was a talker no doubt, but most of all he was the guy you’d call to get things done. Everett planned out his life, made adjustments when needed and above all else, worked tirelessly to the end to provide the best for his family.
Everett leaves to cherish his memory his devoted wife of 50 years, Bonnie; daughter Sherye; brother Jerry Foster, Jr., nephews Craig McLeary (Aneta), Marcus Millen & Myles Millen; nieces Lori Millen, Carolyn Stewart, Mary Ingersoll, Elaina McRoyal, Jeanine Banks and Jerry McReynolds; cousins Zelena Bailey, Mona Bailey and Charletta Broadway, brothers-in-law Dudley Millen, Lenard Millen and Michael Millen (Madelyn); sister-in-law Maudestine McLeary and a host of other relatives and friends.
Chicago, IL 60649