Byline: Ellie Oleson
COLUMN: TELEGRAM & GAZETTE SANTA
Former Massachusetts Highway Department truck driver and foreman John P. Kleya and his sister, Elaine Sughrue, former public library director in Douglas, have remained very close despite some health problems that have left Mr. Kleya retired to the Crescent Manor Nursing Home in Grafton.
Mrs. Sughrue and her husband, retired teacher Jack Sughrue, made a generous donation to the Telegram & Gazette Santa Fund in honor of Mr. Kleya.
"John is the most generous, kind person in the world. All his money went to support kids and schools. We were happy to do this for him. He'll never stop helping kids in need," Mr. Sughrue said.
Mr. Sughrue has also spent a lifetime helping children. The Whitinsville native first taught at Castleton College, then Rutland Center School in Vermont, before returning to Massachusetts. He taught elementary school in Millbury for a time, then spent the next 30 years teaching Grade 5, then Grade 3, in Framingham.
Even after his retirement back in Whitinsville, he continued teaching, most recently offering computer instruction at the Northbridge Senior Center.
On July 18, 2009, Mr. Sughrue was inducted into the TI99ers Hall of Fame. Induction is only open to those who made "an important, established and lasting contribution to using the family of Texas Instruments home computers or the Myarc Geneve 9640 computer."
According to literature accompanying his induction, Mr. Sughrue was on the very forefront of home computer use. When Texas Instruments loaned him a TI-99-4 computer to use in his classroom in Framingham around 1980, "they probably had the first computer in an elementary classroom in America. There was no software or storage device at all."
Mr. Sughrue has been active in the Massachusetts Users of the Ninety-Nine and Computer Hobbyists (MUNCH) in Worcester since 1983, and has kept up with the computer field ever since. He still helps his wife when the latest model frustrates her.
Life is quieter for Mr. Kleya, 86, who looks like he is 60, according to his brother-in-law.
Mr. Sughrue said, "John walks four or five miles every day. He looks amazing. Our donation to the T&G Santa is from him. He asked us to do this for him. He will continue to love and support children as long as he lives."
In its 74th year, the T&G Santa Fund collects thousands of donations from generous readers and area residents to help buy toys for children in need in Central Massachusetts.