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Michael Guion Clifton

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Michael Guion Clifton Obituary
Clifton, Michael Guion
On Thursday the 12th of November (2015), Michael Guion Clifton, passed away after battling cancer with grace and dignity. He fought tooth and nail to the very end, but throughout the fight thought selflessly of his illness while continuing to foster his relationships with family and friends. His life began on October 12, 1942, in McAllen, TX. and later Kingsville where he eventually almost graduated from High School. For him a GED, a few semesters at Texas A&I and NAU, a good sense of humor and personality were all he needed to kick start his career. He was an outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting and fishing, but more importantly he was a hard working family man with a strong commitment to his community. His work ethic and moral character, instilled in him by his parents, are what made him so successful in business and life. At an early age he developed his steel fabrication skills which lead him to become a pipeline welder (local union 798), traveling the country stringing oil and gas pipe from the hot end of the stinger. He worked for a time on a lay barge in the Gulf of Mexico, and even spent time in Columbia South America welding pipe over a section of the Andes mountains, which he later explained cured him of his desire to spend any more time in the rainforest. Upon his return to the drier climate of Texas he took a job in Hereford where he met the love of his life, Norma Jean Badgley, at a local dance hall in Feb, 1968, and by June 28th that same year they were married. In 1970 they moved to Flagstaff to start a family, a business, and to be closer to his mother and father. His business endeavors in Flagstaff began with Clifton Welding where he specialized in pipeline maintenance and built everything from dragline buckets and industrial components to swing sets. In 1974 he and Norma Jean purchased a commercial building on East Butler and grew their fabrication business to include warehousing space, a machine shop and a welding supply & industrial/medical gases business called Northern Cryogenics & Welding Supply. Over the years he branched out into other communities opening store fronts in Cottonwood, Show Low, Durango, Cortez and Farmington. To better manage these stores he needed a faster mode of transportation so in 1978, on his 36th birthday, he received his pilot's license and purchased his first plane, a Cessna 182. He quickly discovered it wasn't all business. He absolutely loved flying, which remained a lifelong passion. In 'retirement,' he flew his second plane, a Maule tail dragger, all over North America. He especially enjoyed flying Good Samaritan Doctors and Nurses to Mexico to provide medical care to those living in remote locations. A close second to his love of flying was his love of Golf and when time allowed he could be found on the Aspen course reveling on a well played hole or cursing the club and ball, but mostly just second guessing his swing. Throughout Mike's career, he remained committed to his community and spent a great deal of time volunteering his skills. In 1987 he was appointed to the Board of directors of IWDA (Independent Welding Distributors Association) and later elected president of the association. He served on the Big Brothers Board, Coconino County Judicial Advisory Committee and served on advisory committees for Vocational Education for Flagstaff Public Schools and Northern Arizona University. Once a year he would give away a welding machine to a student on the reservation who exhibited outstanding performance in the vocational arts program. He was a board member of the Greater Flagstaff Economic Council and served at the behest of the Governor on the State Board of Directors for Community Colleges of Arizona and then later on the Governor's Strategic Partnership for Economic Development. He was a member of the Flagstaff Sheriff Posse and volunteered his time at various fly-ins and air shows across the globe. He could often be found volunteering for the the Young Eagles program inspiring young kids to be pilots. In his final years he rediscovered his passion for farming, and took on a more active role managing the family farm in eastern Colorado. He looked forward to harvest season and getting his hands dirty, operating the combine and working side-by-side with the full-time farmers of Baca County. Through all his success he never lost sight of what was most important in life - God, family, friends and helping those less fortunate. For all he gave he never expected anything in return. He was a man of tremendous character with a heart bigger than Texas and was always there for those who needed him. He will be greatly missed and affectionately remembered. Mike is survived by his beloved wife Norma Jean, son Michael (Amy) Clifton and son Justin Clifton, grandchildren Abbey, Caleb, Mason, and Molly, brother Col. Claude Clifton (Shelby Jeanne), niece Christine, nephews Claude, Bryan, Bruce (Trudy), great-nieces Jordan, Brook and Sierra, mother-in-law Nadine Fulbright; Missy & son Caél, and many wonderful loving cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by his father, Claude Elmer Clifton, and mother Sarah Guion Clifton. The service will be held at 10:00am on Monday, December 7th, 2015 at the Trinity Heights United Methodist Church, 3600 N 4th Street, Flagstaff AZ. Immediately following the service a reception will take place at Little America's Flagstaff room. 2515 E Butler, Flagstaff AZ. The family requests that any donations be sent to a or Hospice Compassus & Palliative Care who provided exceptional care during his time of need. One of Mike's final wishes was to publish a thank you to everyone he did business with and to those individuals who helped him over the years. He knew that success is never one sided and that it takes support from others to achieve one's goals. For those of you who knew and supported Mike over the years, Please accept his sincere Thank You!

Published in The Arizona Republic on Nov. 29, 2015
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