Tom Cleary Memorial Scholarship Fund
Born in Melbourne on the 6th December 1921, James (Tom) Cleary was the son of a farmer and the eldest of 6 surviving children brought up on a farm at Blighty, a little town just out of Finley NSW. Tom came to Geelong as a teenager and attended St Mary’s Technical School. While attending St Mary’s, young Tom boarded with his Uncle Jack and Auntie Gert Scott. Uncle Jack, more commonly referred to as JB had set up his own machinery business – J B Scott, which was operated from 72 Moorabool Street.
After completing his schooling at St Mary’s, Tom returned to the family farm at Blighty. At 18, after doing various jobs around the district, Tom sought a career in the RAAF. When the war ended and while working at Dunlop Rubber Company, Tom studied motor mechanics and this consolidated much of what he had learnt about engines in the Air Force. Later he joined TAA as an aircraft mechanic working at various airports around Australia.
In 1950 Tom and his wife Irene moved to Geelong and joined J B Scott. When JB died in 1961, Tom inherited the J B Scott business. Business was not easy in the ensuing years and making a home for Irene, bringing up a family of three and running a business (7 days a week in the Harvest Season) with lots of after hours calls certainly had its challenges. However with the help of Irene and hard work, the business survived.
Today J B Scott Pty Ltd is a successful business with branches at Lismore and Colac and has the John Deere franchise for Geelong and the Western District. The business remains in the family and is managed by Tom’s son Andrew.
Tom was always involved in the Geelong community, supporting his three children’s school activities. He was a member of the Rotary Club of Geelong and the Knights of the Southern Cross, Treasurer of the Barwon Rowing Club and member of the Machinery Dealers Division of the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce. He was also a very keen Geelong Football Club supporter.
Tom also supported local youth by offering apprenticeships to many keen, would be Diesel Mechanics. This interest in young people is perpetuated by the family providing the corpus of funds to establish The Tom Cleary Memorial Scholarship.