Thomas J. CliffordThomas J. Clifford Our Great Man has Passed. Thomas J. Clifford, 87 years of age, passed peacefully in the presence of family members on Wednesday, February 4, 2009.
Thomas J. Clifford
Our Great Man has Passed
Thomas J. Clifford, 87 years of age, passed peacefully in the presence of family members on Wednesday, February 4, 2009. Tom was regarded with high esteem for his entrepreneurial spirit, leadership in economic development and service to his community, state and nation.
Tom was widely recognized as one of the most effective university presidents in the nation. A native of Langdon, ND, Tom became the eighth president of the University of North Dakota (UND) and the first North Dakota native born president in 1971. He served twenty one years in this capacity, tied with President John West for the longest tenure in UND history. Clifford’s history with the University of North Dakota spanned over fifty years as a UND student, faculty member and administrator.
Tom loved the state of North Dakota and when the Marine came home following World War II, Tom set about to further our state. Tom loved the hard working, honest, intelligent people of North Dakota. He worked very hard to benefit our state and strengthen the University of North Dakota. He wanted national and international recognition for North Dakota.
With the help of other Marines who came to North Dakota, Tom set out to better the state he loved. These Marines included Dr. Edward “Bud” Hagen of Williston, ND Evan Lips and Gilbert Olsen of Bismarck, ND and Earl Strinden of Grand Forks, ND.
As a longtime Dean of the College of Business and as Vice President and President of the University of North Dakota, Tom worked with many state, community and business leaders on strengthening North Dakota. This included Bill Marcil of Fargo, ND Jack Traynor of Devils Lake, ND Bryce Steibel of Fessenden, ND and Tom Davidson of Williston, ND. Tom had a close working relationship with six North Dakota Governors: Bill Guy, Art Link, Al Olsen, George Sinner, Ed Schafer, John Hoeven and Senators, Mark Andrews, Byron Dorgan, Kent Conrad and Congressman, Earl Pomeroy.
Under Tom’s leadership, UND evolved into the largest and most comprehensive university in a five state region. During his presidency, a four year medical school, energy and environmental research center and aviation and aerospace science programs were developed and became worldclass mult-million dollars enterprises. A rehabilitation Hospital was established in Grand Forks, The Conflict Resolution Center and the Center for Innovation at the University of North Dakota. Tom was awarded the North Dakota Rough Rider Award and was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame. Tom played a key role in facilitating one of the nation’s largest gifts to a public university, resulting in the finest college hockey facility in the world.
Tom was proud to have served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II, rising from the rank of private first class to Major and earning the Purple Heart, Silver and Bronze Stars in the Pacific Campaign. He was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, and the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus. “Semper Fi”
He is survived by, his wife, Gayle Kielty-Clifford; sons, Dr. Thomas (Linda) Clifford, Casper, WY, Dr. Stephen Clifford(special friend Judy Buss), Dubuque, IA; stepchildren, Thomas K. Kenville, Dr. Kimberly (Kevin Buettner) Kenville; grandchildren, Dr. Greg Clifford, Dr. Ryan (Lori) Clifford, Dr. Jessica (Travis) Cassity, Scott (Carol) Clifford, Cindi (Eric) Haugen, Angie (Todd) Heiden, Rebecca Clifford, Kortney Kenville, Megan and Abbey Christensen, Katie Gabik, Kamryn Buettner; great-grandchildren, Thomas, Daniel and Patrick Clifford, Cameron, Jackson, and Clarissa Haugen, Cora and Gabe Heiden, Dylan and Garet Clifford, Aaron Clifford, Nathanael, Julie and Valerie Vasquez and Ella and Cody Cassity.
He was preceded in death by, his parents, Thomas J. and Elizabeth Clifford, first wife, Florence M. Clifford and a brother, Joseph Patrick Clifford.
In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to the Thomas J. and Gayle A. Clifford Entrepreneur Endowment. “Entrepreneurs With C+ourage”, C/O The Center for Innovation Foundation, 4200 James Ray Drive, Grand Forks, ND 58203. www.innovators.net
Mass of Christian Burial: 11:00 A.M. Wednesday, February 11, 2009 in St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Grand forks, ND.
Visitation: 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Tuesday with a 7:00 p.m. vigil service in St. Michaels Catholic Church.
President Emeritus, Clifford will lie in state from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Tuesday at the Energy and Environmental Research Center, 15 North 23rd Street, Grand Forks, ND.
Burial: Calvary Cemetery, Grand forks, ND in the spring.
The online memorial Registry may be signed at www.normanfuneral.com
(Gregory J. Norman-Norman Funeral Home, So. Washington St.)