John Kleaver Jr. was born on 1 October 1913 to John Joseph Kleaver, who died in 1972, and Mary Loretta (Joyce) Kleaver, who died in 1973. The family lived in a flat located at 1118A Tyler Street in a neighborhood now known as Old North St. Louis. Residents of the neighborhood called the area the near north side and in the 1960s, during urban renewal, the city referred to it as the Murphy Blair District. John lived most of his life in that neighborhood. His flat was in one of three buildings in a row built in 1901 known officially as the Tyler Estates, but shortly after its construction was unofficially known as “Honeymoon Row” because seven newly married couples all resided there, more couples than on any other single block in St. Louis at the time. A couple of years after his birth, the family moved a few streets away, only to return to 1121 Tyler Street in 1923, this time to a two-story house built in 1876 and owned by Mary’s parents, Austin Joyce, who died in 1923, and Margaret Mary (O’Donnell) Joyce, who died in 1924.

Since John’s middle name differed from his father’s, he was not “officially” a junior. However, throughout his life, the “Jr.” suffix was commonly used by him and others to differentiate him from his dad. He dearly loved his mother and all things Irish. He was normally very even tempered but could get in heated arguments with his father if the latter ever disparaged the Irish in general or his mother in particular. John was the firstborn of three. Second came his sister Loretta Margaret, who lived from 1915 to 2006, and then his brother William Robert, who lived from 1919 to 1993. His siblings married before him, Loretta to Herbert Daniel Lowery, who died in 1987, and William, in 1946, to Irene Frances Pierzynski. She died in 2010. In 1947, John married Frances Clara Schauer, who died in 2000, and they lived on the first floor of his parents’ house, joined by their only child Patrick John.

John worked as a title abstractor for a title insurance company located on Chestnut Street in downtown St. Louis. Tall and thin, he walked endless miles, always extolling it as the perfect exercise. John was a deeply devout Roman Catholic (as was his mother) although he sometimes carried it to extremes and suffered from religious scruples. He gave very generously to the Church’s international missionary endeavors and his local parish, while being a wonderful provider to his family.

After living a short time in what was then Laclede Town and then Dutchtown, John and his family moved to the old Plaza Square apartments downtown, where he died on 24 February 1988 of cardiac arrest and “anoxic encephalopathy with brain stem dysfunction.” John donated his body to St. Louis University School of Medicine and his cremated remains were later interred in the plot reserved for such donors at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery.

Written by Patrick Kleaver
December 2022

© 2023 St. Louis Genealogical Society


Gladys Carter
John Kleaver Jr.
Photo in the collection of Patrick Kleaver
Used with permission
John Kleaver Jr. as an adult
John Kleaver Jr. as an Adult
Photo in the collection of Patrick Kleaver
Used with permission

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Last Modified: 09-Aug-2023 10:42