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In Memoriam: Nora Nealis, National Cleaners Association

Executive director, environmental advocate dies at 70

NEW YORK — Nora Nealis, the longtime executive director of the National Cleaners Association (NCA), died Sunday after an illness. She was 70. 

(UPDATE — The funeral will be private, but there will be a celebration of her life on Sunday, Dec. 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. EST at Meurice Garment Care, located at 535 Manida Street in Bronx, New York. It is asked of people planning to attend to call 708-205-7611 by Nov. 29.)

Prior to her tenure at the NCA, Nealis started her fabricare career at Diversitron, where she sold and repaired equipment for dry cleaners. This experience, according to an NCA statement, allowed her to amass “invaluable insights and expertise,” and served her well in leading the organization. 

Environmental concerns in the drycleaning field were a special focus for Nealis.

“She passionately advocated for the responsible use of perchloroethylene (perc),” the NCA statement says, “masterfully navigating environmental concerns while safeguarding the interests of countless small businesses. Her diplomacy and foresight were instrumental in harmonizing industry and governmental goals.”

These efforts, the organization states, will be part of her lasting legacy. “Nora’s impact was not confined to those she directly assisted; her efforts to ensure environmental compliance have left an enduring imprint on the industry, benefiting even those she never met.”

While these efforts were a professional priority for Nealis, she will be remembered by many for more personal reasons.

“Her boundless generosity and wisdom touched many lives, particularly those within the drycleaning community,” the NCA says. “She was a mentor and a guiding light, offering her time and knowledge selflessly, even to those struggling to meet dues. Her compassion and commitment to inclusivity were unparalleled.”

“She was such a big force,” says Dawn Avery, NCA’s digital marketing manager. “She did a lot for the industry, and she will be missed.”

“Nora leaves behind a loving family, a legion of friends, and an industry forever enriched by her contributions,” the NCA statement continues. “Her spirit of magnanimity and her relentless pursuit of industry excellence will be profoundly missed.”

The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations in Nealis’ name be made to Coats for Kids (

In Memoriam Nora Nealis, National Cleaners Association

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