RALEIGH, NEIL J. (7 Sep 1930 - 11 Sep 2020) was a community volunteer who helped in 1978 to spearhead the St. Patrick Restoration Society, with the goal of preserving the 1871 church structure of ST. PATRICK’S PARISH, the oldest Roman Catholic parish in OHIO CITY. Raleigh was the youngest of three children born to parents Maurice and Marion Riordan Raleigh on Cleveland’s West Side. Raised in St. Ignatius of Antioch Parish, he graduated from ST. IGNATIUS HIGH SCHOOL in 1949. He served in Korea with the US Army, completing his education at JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITY in 1956. His more than 50 years in business included employment at Cleveland’s oldest iron-mining firm, CLEVELAND-CLIFFS INC., Broadview Savings and Loan (now BROADVIEW FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK), and the Catholic Cemeteries Association. Along with his wife Kathleen (Kilbane) Raleigh, he was also a licensed realtor.
Neil and Kathleen Raleigh both had deep roots in St. Patrick Parish on Bridge Avenue. Neil Raleigh’s great-great grandparents, Patrick and Susan (Dooley) Raleigh married there in 1863, while Kathleen Raleigh’s paternal Kilbane ancestors settled in the parish in the 1880s. Born to Martin F. and Mary Agnes (Small) Kilbane on January 4, 1933, Kathleen J. Raleigh attended St. Patrick School, Lourdes Academy and St. John Hospital School of Nursing. In a nursing career that spanned several decades, she was a public health nurse for the City of Cleveland and a school nurse for many Cleveland area Catholic grade schools.
As active parishioners of St. Patrick Parish, Neil Raleigh was involved with the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Weekly Collection Team, while Kathleen Raleigh worked in the school library, participated in the Mother's Club, and helped to form the parish’s Head Start Program for inner city preschoolers. Kathleen was awarded a commendation from Sargent Shriver, who was then serving as U.S. Director for the Office of Economic Opportunity, for her work on Project Head Start. For 43 years, she was also a member of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association, which met at St. Pat’s.
In the 1970s, the Raleighs and several fellow parishioners decided to address the physical deterioration of the parish church, which had begun construction in 1871 and incorporated stone transported by parishioners from the Sandusky area. The Raleighs helped to form the St. Patrick Restoration Society in 1978, raising funds to refurbish stained glass windows, repair the original church organ, and restore the tower bells. In 2006, Neil and Kathleen Raleigh were recognized for their efforts by the Irish American Archives Society with a Walks of Life Award.
Neil and Kathleen Raleigh were married 64 years when Neil preceded her in death in 2020. Kathleen followed him on July 19, 2021. They had four children together: Maureen Bihn, Colleen O’Shaughnessy, Neil Raleigh, and Megan Raleigh. Both are buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in BROOK PARK, OH.
Daniel Brennan and David Patrick Ryan