TIMOTHY CLIFFORD
FUNERAL HOME
Riverdale Park Crematory, LLC- Main Office - Washington
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CLIFFORD Timothy E. Clifford Retired managing director of WPP Finsbury and former newspaper journalist in New York City, Boston and Washington, DC, died Friday, December 4, 2020 after a courageous four-year fight with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Tim Clifford, generally called just "Clifford" by family and friends, lived a high-energy life fired by a fierce and impatient intelligence. He relentlessly pursued wisdom and experience through reading, travel and friendship, and was convinced that the world would be a much better place if we all just listened to him. He first thought to find the key to a more perfect universe through the study of history: Clifford obtained bachelor and masters degrees in history with honors from Yale University; proceeded to New College at Oxford as the American Keasbey Scholar to earn a graduate degree in modern European history, and landed back at Princeton University for more graduate studies. But the joys of academia ultimately could not compete with the bright lights of big cities, and so Clifford debarked for Boston and the start of his career as a journalist at The Herald. In 1986, he was called up to the big show in New York. Clifford was fortunate to have worked at New York City newspapers during the heyday of the "newspaper wars" of the 1980-90s. At New York Newsday-dubbed Tabloid In a Tutu by editors of the rival New York Post-Clifford rose from neighborhoods reporter to the Manhattan courts beat, covering the heated events of the Central Park jogger case, civil unrest following criminal treatment of Black suspects by New York police and the "preppie murder" trial. He was promoted to Newsday's Washington Bureau, and became a friendly fixture on then-Democratic candidate Bill Clinton"s plane. He often brought much-needed comic relief on the grueling, multi-stop-a-day "Camp Pain," as reporters called it. Colleagues could always count on Tim if they had a balky laptop or phone jack; he also was known for his creative wording with expense accounts. In 1993 he was lured away by the surging New York Daily News to be its Washington Bureau chief. He ran the bureau and wrote political analysis during the administration of President Bill Clinton, another voracious reader with whom Clifford swapped reading lists on U.S. and global history. As bureau chief, he managed the expectations of his New York bosses who were engaged in a dogfight over readership with the NY Post: Every time a new conspiracy theory arose, he'd stop answering the phone. It was at the Daily News that Clifford met his wife Susan Jordan, NY Daily News national editor, to whom he reported for a period that they both remember-and friends observed--as fiery and life-changing. With Susan, Clifford continued his exploration of the world, travel ing to obscure historical sites across Europe and ancient hill towns crowned with good restaurants and great wine. Their hikes were always conducted at two paces: Susan often doubling back to find Clifford enjoying a cigarette while perusing a guidebook in the sun. In 1996 Clifford was recruited to Robinson Lerer & Montgomery (RLR) to serve clients in the growing internet industry; he jumped to America Online as corporate editorial editor, and then to owner Time Inc. to assist the C-suite with strategic communications and speechwriting. He returned to RLR prior to its 2011 merger with Finsbury, and retired in 2018 after his diagnosis. Clifford was born and raised in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY but committed himself to city life where the lawns never needed to be mowed and the music played late. Early in their relationship, he and Susan moved into one of the last remaining wood-framed houses of Manhattan, a 19th century gem that in December 2019, after a protracted engagement campaign prosecuted by Clifford, was designated an historic landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Foundation. Clifford was diagnosed with ALS in 2017, and proceeded to deal with the inevitable as he had always dealt with life: Extensive research to develop a plan of attack after which he bullied everyone around him into following his lead. He traveled with Susan, daughter Keely and friends and family; played squash at the Yale Club before settling down to dinner and drinks; drove his more moderate friends crazy with impassioned diatribes about the state of politics in America; rooted for the New York Jets, Mets and Rangers despite every heartbreak, and continued to consume hundreds of books on every topic under the sun. His grace and courage in the face of this dreadful disease served as a model for his family and friends and becomes part of his legacy. Clifford is survived by his parents, Rita and Earl Clifford of Buffalo, NY.; his wife, Susan; daughter, Keelan Jordan Clifford; brother, Mark Clifford; nephews, Colin and Ben Clifford; and an extended family that sprawls across the globe and includes godchildren Marisa Blaine Zipay of New York City and Hailey Davis of Portland, Maine. Tim did not want a "zoom funeral;" a memorial service will be held once the pandemic is contained. Tim delighted in mentoring younger colleagues and was a firm believer in the gift of education. One of his last wishes was to have a scholarship created in his name for academically promising students in need of financial assistance. Tax-deductible contributions in his honor can be made to Oxford University: https://oxfordna.org/donate. Select "New College" from the pull-down menu and in the Further Information box, type in "Timothy Clifford Scholarship."Tim delighted in mentoring younger colleagues and was a firm believer in the gift of education. One of his last wishes was to have a scholarship created in his name for academically promising students in need of financial assistance. Tax-deductible contributions in his honor can be made to Oxford University: https://oxfordna.org/donate. Select "New College" from the pull-down menu and in the Further Information box, type in "Timothy Clifford Scholarship."
Published by The Washington Post from Dec. 11 to Dec. 13, 2020.
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2 Entries
Tim was one of the kindest, smartest and most generous people I've ever known. Not to mention his enormous sense of humor and wicked wit. The world is a lesser place without him.
Karen Ball
Friend
December 19, 2020
I worked w Tim at the Boston Herald. I was among the first wave of hires of Rupert Murdoch, w Tim joining shortly after. But his nickname then was not "Clifford," it was "Cliffo." That's bc the Atex computer system we used for writing stories only allowed for a 6-letter name, so his got abbreviated, and that became his name. Cliffo was a great guy. Very smart & well read, always ready to discuss a topic at great length. But he could also pound out the copy. He was a top notch reporter. He will be missed.
Matt Carroll
Friend
December 12, 2020
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