John (Jack) Francis McClatchey died peacefully on February 27, 2022, at the age of 92 in Cleveland, Ohio. He is survived by his wife Susie Saunders McClatchey, son John Francis McClatchey, Jr., daughter Mary Spotswood McClatchey, Mary’s husband Stephen Masciocchi, and grandson Julian Masciocchi.
Born in Buffalo, New York, Jack had a uniquely colorful childhood. His father, Frank G. McClatchey, was a factory worker, foreman, and car service shop owner who could fix any machine. His mother, Marion McClatchey (nee Messner), had eight sisters who lived nearby. Jack and his sister Marion (who predeceased him) often played Canasta, Pinochle, and poker with them. His Aunt Tessie and Uncle Frank Speidel owned Speidel’s Place on the Niagara River for several decades. Speidel’s was a community hub with live entertainment on the weekends, Friday Night Fish Fries, and where, during the Depression, many people were given food or a place to stay when nothing else was available. Frank Speidel was a practical joker who often hid Limburger cheese under the inseam of men’s hats if they nodded off. Jack’s mother waited tables at Speidel’s, Jack helped out there as well, and his Aunt Tessie was like a second mother to him. Jack attended Kenmore High School, played on the basketball and baseball teams, and was an active member of the alumni association. He attended reunions in Buffalo through his 80s.
The first to attend college in his family, Jack started at a local community college while he worked to save money to attend Yale University. Jack graduated from Yale in 1952 with a degree in history. He then entered the Marine Corp ROTC program to earn money for law school. While on leave visiting friends in Washington, D.C., he met his wife-to-be Susie Saunders, who was working for the FBI. Susie notes that what attracted her to Jack immediately was the fact he ran up the stairs instead of walking. This is not a surprise to anyone who knows Jack because he always moved at a fast clip. Susie and Jack were soon married and moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he attended Harvard Law School while she worked at the college.
After graduating from Harvard Law School Cum Laude in 1957, Jack and Susie moved to Cleveland Heights and he joined the law firm of Thompson, Hine and Flory. He spent his entire legal career there until his retirement in 1993, helping to build the firm from thirty-five attorneys to hundreds of attorneys in multiple offices. Jack absolutely loved to practice law. He specialized in corporate anti-trust, trade regulation, and unfair competition litigation. During his career, he turned down several offers to go in-house as general counsel for his clients. He was a leader in ABA Committees and in state and local bar associations, served on community boards such as St. Vincent Hospital and the Cleveland Sight Center, and sat on the Vestry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. In 1968, Jack, Susie, and their children moved to Shaker Heights.
After retiring from law practice, Jack began his next venture as Executive Director of the U.S. Law Firm Group, an organization he had founded some years prior. The USLFG was a consortium of large regional law firms that developed and shared best practices and referrals. He retired from this position at age 80.
Jack and Susie had a rich social and cultural life in Cleveland. They played tennis at the Cleveland Skating Club and subscribed to the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and Cleveland Playhouse for decades. They also enjoyed traveling together. They took long trips to the Western U.S. and Europe with the children, and Jack and Susie traveled extensively together with friends, the Rofant Club, and Elderhostel (now Road Scholar). Among Susie’s favorite trips with Jack were those to the Edinburgh Festival for their 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries. They also spent time in Maine in the summer, and after Jack’s retirement from law practice, lived in Florida for four months every year.
Jack was a devoted father who took both of his kids to New York City when they turned 16. He played endless hours of chess with John and traveled to Ireland with him to play golf. He took sailing lessons with Mary in Maine and visited her in Colorado for ski trips. He relished spending time with his grandson, Julian. His love was unconditional.
One of Jack’s most distinguishing features was his encyclopedic memory of history, literature, and film. Watching the Turner Classic Movie Channel with him could become a film appreciation course. He was an active member of the Rofant Club, the Novel Club, the Anthony Powell Society, and international bibliophilic societies. He could recite poetry from memory. When he read books on history, he took copious notes, beautifully outlined, as though he were still in college. He had an extensive personal library in his home basement and traveled abroad to visit rare book collections, acquiring early editions of favorite authors. Prior to moving to Judson Manor with Susie in 2016, he donated most of his library to Case Western Reserve University.
Jack was quick to make friends and loyal to those he made. He was always cordial and gracious with everyone he met and worked with. He liked to serve Goombay Smashes at parties. He had a wonderful sense of humor that was often self-deprecating. And he enjoyed the occasional prank. Once, during a conference call with several attorneys who were talking over each other, he started to play a recording of Dylan Thomas reading one of his poems to see how long it would take for everyone to notice. We will miss him dearly.
The family prefers that those who wish may make contributions in his name to The Cleveland Sight Center (www.clevelandsightcenter.org) or to the Judson Foundation (www.judsonsmartliving.org/foundation). A Celebration of Life will be held at 4 PM on Wednesday, March 23 at Judson Manor, 1890 E. 107th St., Cleveland, Ohio 44106.