Memorial honors Clifford
Sun Valley Co. bids farewell to co-worker, friend
The people down in the offices where I spend my day
will tell you that this has not been my best week. Now, however, I don’t
feel so alone, helpless and angry, and I have you to thank.
Wally Huffman, Sun Valley Co. general manager
Bill’s family warmly thanks you for honoring him at
Betsy Brooks, Bill Clifford’s mother
By PETER BOLTZ
Express Staff Writer
Nearly 500 mourners said goodbye to Bill
Clifford on Saturday at a memorial service in the Limelight Room in the
Sun Valley Inn.
Friends and family then went outside to
watch a torchlight parade down Baldy in his honor.
As the line of skiers started down Upper
College Run, a skier turned right to ski down Ridge Run alone. It was ski
school director Hans Muehlegger representing Clifford skiing off on a
final run down Baldy.
A 24-year veteran with the Sun Valley Co.,
Clifford had been director of convention sales since 1984. He was 45 when
he died Jan. 7 in Hailey.
Clifford’s memorial celebration began
with a piece by the Arden Trio—Franz Schubert’s Trio in E Flat Major
Opus Posthumous 148.
Suzanne Ornstein of the Arden Trio said the
piece "spoke straight to the heart" of the memorial. "He
was dying when he wrote it, and he knew it."
Schubert was 31.
Wally Huffman, Sun Valley Co. general
manager who acted as master of ceremonies for the memorial, poignantly
remembered Clifford, his friend of 24 years.
"The people down in the offices where
I spend my day will tell you that this has not been my best week. Now,
however, I don’t feel so alone, helpless and angry, and I have you to
Clifford had been suffering from a
cancerous brain tumor for three years, he said.
Still, Huffman said, "He came to work
Mark Thoreson, who Huffman introduced as
Clifford’s "closest friend," told the audience that at first
he questioned the idea of calling the service a memorial
He said he didn’t think there was
anything to celebrate, until he started reflecting.
"In Bill’s absence, there’s a
presence, and we have to celebrate what’s present—his love for his
family, his fight, his determination and his infectious hope."
Tom Hazzard said that some people go
through life without reaching out to others, and when they’re gone, no
Others, he said, go through life hurting
others, leaving a trail of misery.
"Then there are the Bill Cliffords of
the world. What a joy."
The memorial was not without its light
Thoreson and Dick Calgaro recalled how
Clifford addressed them as "Brother Thoreson" and "Brother
When Mike Fishman got up to talk, he said,
"I’m a little upset. Bill never called me brother. He just called
Margaret Mitchell added a little more humor
when she told the audience that since she had arrived at the memorial she
had been feeling a strong presence.
"I think it’s Bill, nudging me to
She paused with the timing of a comedian,
looked over to Huffman and said, "Wally, when are you going to change
the carpet in this room?"
In his turn at humor, Huffman admitted that
Clifford had a "few quirks."
"Rumor had it that moths would fly out
of his wallet when he opened it. I don’t know if this is true or not,
but I know he cared about every penny."
Speaker after speaker recalled the effort
and enthusiasm Clifford brought to his job as director of sales for the
Sun Valley Co.
Brent Gillette, who worked for Clifford for
10 years, said, "In this business, Bill is an icon. Wherever I go,
people ask, ‘Where’s Bill?’"
Calgaro, a business associate who came in
from Washington, D.C., for the memorial, said, "Bill Clifford and Sun
Valley were synonymous. You were fortunate that Bill walked among
As much as the speakers praised Clifford
for professional life, they praised him more for the love he had for his
Looking directly at Clifford’s children
seated in the front -- Estee, 14, and Ross, 11 -- Margaret Mitchell told
them to never forget how much their father loved them.
The last speaker was Clifford’s mother,
Betsy Brooks. After reciting a short poem, she said, "Bill’s family
warmly thanks you for honoring him at this memorial."