Golf, family and friends lost a "True Gentleman" and pioneer of golf throughout Florida with the passing of Lloyd M. Clifton, Sr. on December 10, 2013. Born August 8th, 1924, Lloyd belonged to one of the oldest pioneering families of Volusia County. His warm heart and soft spoken words always found the best in people ~ he was a "best friend" to many. Lloyd was a superb athlete! He excelled at football and baseball at Stetson University then advanced to semi-professional baseball playing for the Deland Red Hats and then the Sanford Giants. During this period he met his true love Bonnie. They were married for 65 years. Golf may never have known Lloyd if not for several devastating knee injuries that halted first his football career and later baseball. After these setbacks, Lloyd decided to get a horticulture degree from his beloved University of Florida. His first career position started as "Beautification Director" for the City of Daytona Beach. When the opening for "Greenskeeper" became available at their Municipal Courses - he leaped at the opportunity. In 1957, Lloyd moved to Orlando becoming the first golf course superintendent at Rio Pinar Country Club which was under construction. A dispute between the architect and owners left LLoyd to finish the course and afforded him his first taste of golf design. He remained at Rio Pinar during the first Citrus Open and in 1961 became one of the first recipients of the Florida Turfgrass Associations "Wreath of Grass" Award. LLoyd returned to Deland in 1962 to help with the family fern operation. He started his agronomy consultation business during this time which over the next 20+ years consulted on over 150 Florida golf courses. In 1966, he added Golf Course Architect to his resume with the opening of West Orange Country Club in Winter Garden. He designed 16 new courses over the next 22 years including such local names as Indigo Lakes, Plantation Bay, Sweetwater Oaks, Pelican Bay South, Deer Run, Hunter's Creek and Orange Blossom Hills. He was a Member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. Lloyd was fortunate to have spent professional time with each of his boys assisting Lloyd Jr. in the fern industry and Craig during his superintendents position at the Villages. In 1987, Lloyd brought his middle son George and family friend Ken Ezell into the design business. Creations like Grey Oaks (Naples), Highland Creek (Charlotte, NC), Terra Vista (Round Rock, TX) expanded the Clifton name outside of Central Florida. The Villages was starting to take off when they designed Hacienda Hills in 1989 and the group has had a hand in designing all 603 holes since that time. All in All ~ 81 equivalent 18 hole courses throughout the Southeast carry the Clifton or CEC name. Lloyd's passion beyond Bonnie and family was UF football and fishing. He loved bass fishing with Bonnie and his 3 boys. Lloyd and Bonnie and their best friends, Bill and Betty Churms, never missed a tailgate trip to Gainesville for a Gator football game and his legendary semi-annual snook fishing trips with his friend Pete Osbourne will always be remembered. Lloyd is survived by his wife Bonnie Jean Clifton; sons: Lloyd Jr. "Clif" (Virginia), George (Terrri), and Craig (Patti); six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. Memorial services will be held Saturday, December 14, 2013 at St. Peter's Catholic Church at 10:00AM. Please visit www.lankfordfuneralhome.com to leave a note of support or share a photo with the Clifton family.
Lankford Funeral Homes & Crematory
220 E. New York Ave. Deland, FL 32724
Published in Daytona Beach News-Journal on Dec. 12, 2013