November 2, 2020
Richard A. Gifford, 67, also known as Giff and Sassafras, passed away at his home in Clayton on Monday, November 2, 2020.
He was born in Watertown on August 3, 1953, son of Kenneth C. and Alice L. Zimmer Gifford. He was a graduate of Thousand Islands High School and from a technical school in Arizona, specializing in plumbing, heating, and air conditioning.
A marriage to Anne Gross ended in divorce. On August 3, 2004 Richard married Susan L. Hesler in the Grotto at St. John's Church, LaFargeville.
Richard worked for Frink Sno-Plow, Clayton for 21 years in shipping and receiving and as a forklift operator. He enjoyed classic rock music and attending rock concerts. He was well known in the north country as the lead singer in various bands from the 1960's until 2006, including Fresh, Fog, and Underfoot.
Along with his wife, Susan, Richard is survived by his three children, Cassie C. Gifford, Lafargeville, Nathan D. Gifford, LaFargeville, and Russell S. Smith, Clayton; cherished grandson Maynard A. Gifford; sister Susan A. Cencebaugh and husband James, Clayton; sister-in-law Linda Gifford, Rosiere; several nieces, nephews, and cousins; 7 step-children and 23 step-grandchildren; and his best friend since childhood Ronald N. DuFord and his family. Besides his parents, he was predeceased by his brother James K. Gifford and nephew Douglas R. Millett.
Those who knew Richard will remember him as a dedicated father, a loyal husband, and a fierce friend. His infectious and booming laugh lit up many gatherings even though no one could remember quite why they had started laughing to begin with. His genuine spirit, abundant sense of humor, and enormous heart left an indelible impression on everone around him. He will be sorely missed.
A prayer service will be held Monday, November 9, at 11 AM at St. Mary's Church with Fr. Arthur J. LaBaff presiding. The committal will take place at St. Mary's Cemetery at 11:45 AM. Masks and social distancing are required for attendance to all services. Arrangements are entrusted with Cummings Funeral Service, Inc., Clayton and online condolences to his family may be posted at www.cummingsfuneral.com. In lieu of flowers donations in his name may be made to the Clayton Food Pantry, c/o St. Mary's Church 521 James St., Clayton, NY 13624.