Obituaries » Faye A. Clifton
January 14, 1928 - July 10, 2019
A memorial gathering will be held at
The Fountains on July 21, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. Contributions in her memory may be made to
any charity that works for the environment, animal welfare, or human rights, c/o the funeral home.
Faye Arlene Gilmore was born January 14, 1928, in a room above her father Cecil’s harness
shop in the tiny hamlet of Woodford, in south-central Wisconsin. She had one older sister, Ruth.
On her father’s side she was a descendant of one of the original families of the Rhode Island
Colony, who emigrated from Essex, England in the mid-1600s. Her mother Edith Maaske was a
first generation descendant of emigrants from the Province of Pomerania in Germany/Prussia.
Faye was a petite dark-haired girl with green eyes, bright and lively, a girl who was an excellent
student (a First in Latin), with many friends who remained in touch throughout her life. She was
an inveterate journalist and meticulous record-keeper and kept a daily diary. Because her small
village had no high school she moved to the town of Monroe where she lived with her older
sister, then working, to attend Monroe High School. After graduating she attended Antioch
College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, a small private liberal arts college founded by Horace Mann
which focused on experiential education through cooperative work programs. Her first coop
semester was in New York City where she worked in the offices of Gimbels Department Store
during the day and went out jitterbugging at night. During her second coop semester, in
Chicago, she met James A., ‘Jim’ Clifton, a WWII veteran on the GI Bill at the University of
Chicago. They married on December 20, 1947 and hitchhiked to New York City where they
honeymooned during the Great Blizzard of 1947. They were 19 and 20 years old. At the time of
Jim’s death in July 2000 they had been married for 53 years.
Before they met in the rooming house where Faye lived and where he got his meals, Jim had
been in the Merchant Marine, and at 17 had participated in the D-Day Invasion of Normandy,
prior to returning to his hometown of Chicago to study Cultural Anthropology. After they married
Faye transferred from Antioch College into the Masters-level program at the UofC and
continued in political science. When the Korean War started Jim enlisted in the Marine Corps
and they were separated for several years. During that period Faye worked for the National
Labor Relations Board. Following the Armistice Jim was stationed in Japan where Faye joined
him and where their first child, Margaret Ruth, was born in January 1955. From Japan they
returned to the States where Jim pursued his Masters Degree at San Francisco State
University, and a son, Peter James, was born in July 1956. They then moved to Eugene,
Oregon where Jim got his PhD and began teaching and doing field work, studying Klamath and
Ute Indians. Their second daughter, Catherine Faye, was born in November 1959, and the
family then moved to the small town of Ignacio, Colorado. Youngest child Douglas William was
born in nearby Durango in October 1961. The family then moved to Boulder when Jim began an
Assistant Professorship at the University of Colorado. Time in summers was frequently spent on
or near Indian reservations as Jim continued his research work. The family made numerous
cross-country trips back and forth from ‘out West’ to Chicago and Wisconsin. In 1962 they
moved to Lawrence, Kansas when Jim was hired as an Associate Professor at the University of
Kansas. In 1964-65 the family lived in Santiago and Purranque, Chile, while Jim was on a
Fulbright Scholarship. Faye, in the meantime, in addition to raising four small children, had
returned to her study of political science at KU. She continued to work on her BA, completing it.
in 1969, after the family had moved to Prescott, Arizona, where Jim taught for one year at
In 1970 Jim accepted a tenured position at the newly created campus of the University of
Wisconsin in Green Bay, eventually becoming the inaugural holder of the Frankenthal Endowed
Chair in Cultural Anthropology. By this time he had published numerous books and articles on
the Potowatomi Indians and related subjects which Faye contributed to in numerous ways, from
conducting subject interviews, editing and writing articles. Faye was appointed to the Planning
Commission of the City of Green Bay, the first woman on that body. She remained a member for
over 15 years, participating in the revitalization and renovation of the downtown area. Jim retired
from UWGB in 1990, and they chose to move to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where Jim was offered
an adjunct position at Western Michigan University. And so they moved across Lake Michigan.
Jim started a consulting business, Ethnohistory Associates. After ‘retirement’ they both
continued to travel widely, both for Jim’s consulting work and for pleasure. Faye particularly
loved to travel to places to enjoy the great gardens and architecture of the world.
Faye was always an avid sewer, knitter, and crocheter, who created numerous beautiful
detailed crewel and other needlework projects. In retirement she focused on quilting and
created a large number of beautiful quilts of all sizes and styles, displaying them in shows; she
was an active member of the Kalamazoo Log Cabin Quilters. She also was a long-time member
of the League of Women Voters and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Southwest Michigan.
She was a proud lifelong Democrat. When Jim died in 2000 Faye stayed in her home until 2009
and then moved to The Fountains at Bronson Place, where she was an involved member of the
community there for many years. She was passionate about recycling and her book club, and
helped to start a milkweed garden to support the monarch butterfly population. That garden is
now a registered Monarch Waystation. She read dozens of books every year; the last book she
was reading was The Mueller Report. She hated to miss ‘Judy’ on PBS at 7 o’clock.
Faye died peacefully on July 10 at Bronson Hospital with her three surviving children and
granddaughter by her side. She was preceded in death by her husband Jim in July 2000 and
her youngest son Douglas in April 2009. She is survived and missed by her children, Margaret
Ruth, Peter James, and Catherine Faye (JD Smith), and three grandchildren, Paige Catherine
Clifton-Steele, Clifford Smith and Daniel James Clifton, all of whom she was immensely proud.
She is missed by her many good friends and neighbors.