James David (JD) McCloskey went on his final sleigh ride to Heaven on 12 Feb. 2021 after a lengthy illness.
J.D. was born 1 Nov. 1940 in Salem, Ohio.
He leaves two sons, David, and Edward (Denise) McCloskey of Paris, TN, and a sister Jayne Ann (Thomas) Lange of Columbia Station, Ohio. He leaves grandchildren Mark (Nicole) McCloskey of MD and Michelle (Jared) Riley of VA; his great-grandchildren Camille, Madeline and Wyatt McCloskey and special friends Dennis Freeland and family in FL, Aaron (Della) Gorelick in NY, many nieces, nephews, step-children and scores of friends for life.
J.D. started his adult life in Cleveland, Ohio, and at Buckeye Biscuit Company worked in the warehouse, as a truck driver, supervisor, and eventually company executive, a true ground floor to front office accomplishment.
During this period, he learned sign language so he could communicate with deaf employees. This inspired J.D. to perfect this skill and as usual he took off and soared in a time when seeing sign language interpreters at public events and public announcements was not as common as it is today.
He was active in Cleveland politics, served on numerous public boards, and was on the board of directors for the Cleveland Clinic. He was a vocal member of the Teamsters Union and acted as a moderator between union and non-union members.
As a professional sign language interpreter, he could be seen interpreting for presidential speeches, legal court cases and at local hospitals helping doctors and patients. He enjoyed bringing the live concert experience to the hearing impaired at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in NY and many concerts in the Cleveland area. His favorite entertainers to interpret for were Kenny Rogers and Charlie Daniels.
His #1 true calling and joy was being Santa at Great Northern Mall in North Olmsted, Ohio. A physically natural Santa Claus with the personality to match, for over 22 years he brought joy to children and parents alike. He has been photographed thousands of times and generations of families have his picture in their homes.
J.D. was also the Santa model for American Greetings’ Christmas cards, wrapping paper and holiday gift cards.
He enjoyed visiting deaf children in their homes and at Christmas parties whenever invited. J.D. was also the Santa in the fire truck at the rear of the Christmas parade, waving and tossing treats to children along the route.
But JD’s #1 joy of all was the moment when a deaf child would sit on Santa Claus’s lap and realized that they could talk to Santa just like the hearing children. Those smiles and bright eyes were his most precious memories.
Later in his life, he worked as an interpreter between the professors and the hearing-impaired students at his beloved Rochester Institute of Technology in NY.
He received numerous awards over the years, like the 2018 “Staff Award” for Associate Interpreter, Department of Access Services, and in 1998, the “Outstanding Interpreting Award” from the National Technical Institution for the Deaf Student Congress.
J.D. was a philanthropist, helping many individuals and organizations like the “Utica Independent Living Center,” and left an endowment to RIT to assist students in the future.
He retired due to health concerns in 2017.
Always active, involved and engaged, J.D. was quoted as saying, “When you love your job as much as I do, it’s not called work.” And throughout it all — he did it His way.
Rest in Peace, J.D., Dad, Grand Pa, and Friend.
A celebration of life will be held in NY at a later date. Donations may be made in J.D.’s memory to a charity of your choice.
Funeral arrangements are under the care of Ridgeway Funeral home in Paris, TN.