Back to Home Page

Local Links
Sun Valley Guide
Hemingway in Sun Valley
Real Estate

For the week of January 17 through January 23, 2001

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 this memorial.

Betsy Brooks, Bill Clifford’s mother

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 thank."

Clifford had been suffering from a cancerous brain tumor for three years, he said.

Still, Huffman said, "He came to work every day."

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 "celebration."

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 one notices.

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 moments.

Thoreson and Dick Calgaro recalled how Clifford addressed them as "Brother Thoreson" and "Brother Dick."

When Mike Fishman got up to talk, he said, "I’m a little upset. Bill never called me brother. He just called me Fishman."

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 say something."

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 you."

As much as the speakers praised Clifford for professional life, they praised him more for the love he had for his family.

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."






Back to Front Page
Copyright © 2000 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.