Alexandra Yolanda Cleary

alexandra cleary

June 28, 1959 ~ December 30, 2011

Born in: Winchester, MA
Resided in: Duluth, GA

Alexandra Cleary Gonsalves, 52, protected others from carcinogens and toxic substances. Although unable to win her personal battle with cancer, Alexandra's work at the Georgia Environmental Protection Division will spare others a similar fate. Over the last twenty years she played a key role in the development and implementation of one of the nation's best hazardous site cleanup programs, helping and inspiring many people along the way. Her commitment and success in protecting the environment and people's health remain her legacy. Alexandra Yolanda Cleary, Gonsalves, passed away on Dec. 30, 2011, in Duluth, GA Alexandra was born June 28, 1959 in Winchester, MA. She graduated from Winchester High, attended Agnes Scott College, earned two degrees from Georgia Tech: an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering; and, her Masters in Environmental Engineering. She worked for Millipore, Koch Systems, and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division where her contribution to the welfare of the citizens of Georgia is notably mentioned above. She lived in Duluth GA, and is survived by her husband, William Cleary; her sons Connor and Ian; her mother, Katherine Vetromile Keefe of Winchester MA; her father, John Gonsalves of Sao Paulo, Brazil; her brother, Christopher Gonsalves of Winchester, MA, and paternal half-sister Heather Cauthorne of Clintwood, VA. Family & friends may visit Saturday, Jan. 7, 1:00-3:00 PM, Wages & Son Funeral Home. Also, a memorial mass followed by a reception at the church hall on Jan 21, 10:00 AM, St. Eulalia's Church, 50 Ridge St., Winchester, MA Alex was a long time supporter of programs for children with Autism. Memorial contributions may be made to the National Autism Association. Wages and Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville Hwy, Lawrenceville, GA 30046. 770-277-4550. Online condolences may be expressed at

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Memories Timeline


  1. Alex was the best friend a person could have. She was my closest friend for over 20 years, and I will miss her dearly. Her care and compassion were beyond measure as she cared for me after surgery, through the lose of my family, and many other difficult times. The good times we shared are landmarks in my life. Alex knew how to meet you were you were and walk with you along life’s path.

    She had many hobbies and interests and accomplished more than seemed humanly possible in any given day. Her generosity was unmatched as she gave of herself as no one else I have ever know. She was truly a remarkable person, and I cherish the privilege of having known her.

  2. We were so sad to hear the news about Alex. All of us in the Agnes Scott College of 1981 loved her! She was such a light….

  3. So grieve a while for me, if grieve you must. Then let your grief be comforted by trust. It’s only for a time that we must part. So bless the memories within your heart. I won’t be far away, for life goes on. So if you need me, call and I will come. Though you cannot see or touch me, I’ll be near and if you listen with your heart you’ll hear all my love around you, soft and dear. And then when you must come this way alone.I’ll greet you with a smile and say“Welcome Home”.

  4. I will surely miss Alex. She was my best friend. She may not have felt the same way about me, but I loved her so much. We used to walk around the block together with Emmy her dog and my dog either Fred or Jett. She would call when Emmy whined for her walk and say “Emmy wants to W.A.L.K,” so that the dog couldn’t figure it out. : Alex had a gentle way of persuading me and encouraging me. She never nagged, just persuaded me. She was so good at so many things. Cooking, baking, crocheting, sewing, knitting, gardening, and parenting her boys and the dog. Alex taught me a lot about patience, organization, and how to get along with people. God bless and comfort Bill, Connor and Ian.

    Janice Rickert

  5. ‎Alexandra Cleary – A wonderful sister, mother, wife, co-worker, mentor, and friend. You will be greatly missed. My heart aches at the thought that you are gone, but I thank God that He put you in my life to be my mentor and friend.

  6. Alex was one of the most organized and efficient people I knew. She loved the outdoors which is why she was the perfect steward of the environment.

    She always brought beauty and light to our book club meetings. She will be missed.


  7. I have the extreme good fortune of having worked with Alex at the Georgia Environmental Protection Division for 20 years. She was instrumental in helping build and run what became one of the nation’s top state clean-up programs. Alex was one of the most industrious, well-organized, and focused people I have ever met. Her powers of productivity allowed her to get more done in a day than ten competent mortals combined and, at the end of the day, her desk would look like nothing had ever happened. We should not lament at her early passing, because she easily accomplished in her shortened lifetime what many of us will accomplish if we live to 100.

    I think a lot of times people say that one of their goals in life is to make the world a better place in which to live. Alex was one of those people who actually realized that goal through her tireless efforts to protect people’s health and the environment from threats posed by hazardous wastes. Alex believed in and was firmly committed to her mission to make the world safer for other people.

    Alex possessed a deep sense of caring and service for those about her. She busied herself with doing nice things for other people; remembering birthdays, sharing her talents, staying in touch with people, and reaching out to those who needed a helping hand. The world will greatly miss her kindness and thoughtfulness.

    I not only knew Alex as a dedicated colleague, but also as a devoted and selfless mother. Her sons, Connor and Ian, were her always present in conversations at work and were obviously her greatest joy in life. No two boys could have ever asked for a more caring and loving mother.

    Yes, we will all miss Alex, but what a wonderful person she was, and how lucky we are to have known her and to have been touched by her incredible spirit! While we grieve at her passing, let us not forget to rejoice that she is now in the arms of our loving Lord shining brighter than the sun.

  8. I met Alexandra once when she was in Boston visiting her family. I am a long-time friend of Chris Gonsalves. I would like to extend my condolences to Alex’s family and friends. I will be lighting a candle at mass today in her memory.

  9. Alex was one of the strongest, intelligent, and hard working person that I have ever met. She helped pave the way for many women in a male dominated field. She was passionate, dedicated, and a formidable force that could hold her own in any situation. It is that formidable force that will live on in the hearts of those that had the privelage to have known her. We will miss you greatly dear Alex. Rest in peace.
    My prayers go out to all those she left beind, especially to her husband and sons.

  10. Alex was a wonderful woman who volunteered for many years as Spectrum’s treasurer. She was kind.loving.generous, and somewhat private person. She wil be greatly missed.

  11. Alex was my supervisor for 7 years at EPD, and through all those years and beyond I have also considered her a friend. She was always a big supporter of the people who worked for her on both a professional and personal level.

    Memories to share…

    I’ve never seen anyone as successful at growing orchids as Alex was.

    I remember her coming to my house to teach our craft group how to make stain glass wind chimes. Other times she joined the group she would always come up with the most unique and beautiful way to do whatever craft we had.

    I remember taking her and her boys caving several times and wondering how she managed to stay so very much in charge even when put in a totally new situation. And she certainly was never afraid to try something new.

    I remember her smile when she talked about her kids – going to Clown Camp, showing photos of their vacations, etc.

    At work she enjoyed changing her office furniture around often. I remember coming into her office one day and her furniture was placed in the worst looking design I had ever seen. She just looked up, smiling proudly, and said, “I’ve finally managed to put my desk in the only position it has never been before.”

    Sending prayers from my family to hers.


  12. I have corresponded with Alex over the 15 years I have worked for the Corps of Engineers on our environmental projects but did not have the pleasure of meeting her until late last year. As Tim said, she was dedicated to improving public health and safety by cleaning up our environmental sites as best possible. I greatly respected her dedication to doing excellent work and wish I had the opportunity to know her better personally. My thoughts and prayers go to her family and friends in this time of loss.

  13. I remember the day Alex was hired as an Environmental Engineer for the Dept. of Natural Resources. I was delighted that another woman was hired in this field and she showed from the beginning that her goal was public service. She was an environmental whirlwind on the outside. She wanted to do a good job but not lose sight of the most important thing in her life, her family. She was the perfect balance of professionalism and caring. I once shared a native-American proverb with her that became the topic of many conversations: Sons are the joys of a Mother’s heart. Ian and Connor you should be very proud of all that your mother accomplished in her relatively short life. After the powerful grief begins to fade I pray that you will be able to only remember the good memories of her life and not the memories of her passing. Bill my family will be praying for you as you lead your family forward into the future. May God grant you peace and understanding as He called Alex home.

  14. I did not know Alex well personally, but had many dealings with her on a professional level over the years while working with clients on matters concerning contaminated sites investigation and cleanup. She had a tough job at GAEPD, but always did is well. While we ERM and clients did not always agree with her decisions, she always handled things in a very professional manner. Her passing is such sad news. On behalf of all of us at ERM I want to offer condolences to her family, friends and co-workers.

  15. Alex, a great friend, client, and coworker. When I started with the Georgia Department of Law some 16 years ago, I began working with the HSRA section, and came to work a lot with Alex as a unit coordinator and then eventually as the Program Director. Alex stood by her convictions, and at times, I had to hold her back. Alex was good people,and it was my good fortune to have had the opportunity to have her be a part of my life both professionally and socially. And Alex, as Elvis and Frank sang, “did it her way” and for that I am thankful and greatful.

    Let us celebrate that Alex has finished her work here, ran her race well and now have entered into your father’s house for all eternity.

    Next show I do Alex, I will dedicate “My Way” to you. Say Hi to Elvis for me.

    From Afghanistan – Lt Col Tim Ritzka

  16. My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Alex. I have worked with Alex for many, many years on several projects and she was a valued public servant at the EPD and will be sorely missed.

    Alex was always a very dedicated person and while she could be demanding but she was always fair minded and sought solutions to problems and was dedicated to protection of the environment in Georgia. I did not know about her work with autism but it does not surprise me that she had the same dedication outside of work to worthy causes that she had at EPD.

    My prayers are with Alex and her family that they are consoled in this difficult time. I realize it may be a challenge to celebrate a life when you are grieving a loss but I hope you can find some joy in your memories of Alex. God bless.

  17. I am so sorry about the passing of Alex. She and I worked together at EPD and she was a wonderful hard working person. My prayers are with your family as you go through these difficult days. God bless you all.

  18. I worked with Alex for several years at the Environmental Protection Division. I am truly saddened by Alex’s passing. I remember Alex as kind, easy to talk to when you needed someone to listen. She was very efficient in her work and very creative in every way. She truly loved her two boys, Connor and Ian. She is and will be missed.

  19. I worked with Alex back in the early ‘80s at a company called Amicon in Danvers, Massachusetts. She was a dear friend. I am deeply saddened by the news of her passing. My prayers go out to Alex and her family. God bless.

  20. Thank you Alex for your patience, your guidance, and for inspiring me to perform my job with excellence. You also taught me that it’s ok to live a little every now and then. You have set the standards for us as we strive to protect Georgia’s environment. –Rest in peace. Your work here is finished.
    I extend my condolences to the family, Connor and Ian in particular. It was evident how much Alex loved both of you. I remember when she gave you a map, let you determine the travel destination, and then away you went on your adventure. Since I came to work for EPD, you have grown from little boys with teddy bears in your arms to young men. I know it is difficult now, but in time the painful memories will fade, and you will remember the good times you shared with her. There is no road map for living well, but your Mom has already given you the skills you need to navigate the rest of your lives. Thanks for sharing her with all of us at EPD. God bless you.

  21. I first met Alex at the back of a lecture hall at Georgia Tech in 1979. I saw an absolutely gorgeous woman looking around and said, “Why don’t you sit here? I don’t bite …hard.” And the world was changed forever. It never worked out between us, but it didn’t affect our friendship; she once aid she’d take a bullet for me. It has been my pleasure and privilege to have her a part of my life for the last 30+ years.. G-d I miss her…rest in peace.

  22. I have know Alex for gosh..20 years. When I met Alex she had really long hair and we cut it off! I have cut her hair forever. Yes I was the women that would grit my teeth when she would make me take just a”little bit more” off the bangs every time I cut them. It drove her crazy when they grew out, and drove me crazy to cut them! We would laugh over and over for years over those bangs! After many,many years of short hair, we decided to grow it some.Recently we cut it off again and decided that’s was just beautiful on her. I will always treasure that day.We laughed a little,cried a little,prayed and shared our hearts.Alex truly was so great at everything she did. She worked tirelessly at raising the boys and making sure they were educated and provided for.Boys, you already know you have so much to be proud of. Your mom would always come in knitting something,sweaters..I even think socks one time.She would talk of the Ireland vacation when you were little and all thatwas important to her..which was her family and people she loved as well as her job.She. was a wonderful,wonderful lady and I am forever blessed to know her and have been a small part of her life all these years. Your mom had great dreams for you to go on with your life and succeed. _ will continuously pray for you all.

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