Clifford Howard Wilford, 93, of Elkmont, a highly honored and much respected World War II combat veteran, passed away July 6, 2017, at a nursing home in Danville, Illinois.
He was born Jan. 18, 1924, in Middlesboro, Kentucky, to William F. Williford and Sarah Elizabeth Reed. He was born and raised in the Appalachian Mountains. He joined the Army Oct. 20, 1940, at age 16. His unit was the 10th Infantry Regiment at Fort Thomas, Kentucky. He was deployed to Iceland before the start of the war, relieving the British Army. They guarded the shores protecting the naval bases and shipping lanes. He was then sent to England and Ireland for training for the D-Day invasion at Normandy. His unit landed on Utah Beach. After the landing, the 10th Infantry Regiment became part of the 10th Infantry Division of the 3rd Army, commanded by Gen. George Patton. The 10th Infantry participated in five European campaigns, 23 river crossings by assault, the taking of Angers, Fontainebleau, Rheims, Metz, the Battle of the Bulge, and through the Siegfried Line across Germany. Recently, he was awarded the French Legion of Honour medal, the highest distinction awarded by the French government, for his bravery in the liberation of France from the Germans.
After victory in Europe, he returned to Kentucky, where he met his wife of 45 years, Jewell Studdard. He was trained as an electrician in the coal mines of Harlan County, where all three of his children were born. He moved the family to Michigan in the early '50s to work in the auto industry. He attended night school at the University of Michigan and earned his degree in electrical engineering. He retired from General Motors as a superintendent of environmental services.
After Jewell's death, he married Cathy Black of Elkmont.
He had a deep faith in God and lived his live in a way to bring glory to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is a member of Elkmont United Methodist Church. He had many interests before and after retirement. He loved to write music and play his guitar. He could play any string instrument and the piano. He had many copyrighted songs, his music had been recorded, and he played at the Grand Ole Opry. He loved to net and band birds, and he kept a log for the National Audubon Society. He was a life member of Masonic Lodge 16 of Athens, was a Master Mason, and was on the membership roles for just short of 65 years. He was a member of the Eastern Star Athens Chapter 214. He was an avid golfer who was on the links as much as possible. Later in life, he and Cathy enjoyed watching Atlanta Braves baseball and Alabama football (Roll Tide!).
He taught his children to live life with love of family, with compassion and respect for others, and with a work ethic to do the best you can. He was the personification of the Greatest Generation, a true American hero. He lived the American Dream.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Jewell L. Wilford.
He is survived by his present wife, Cathy Black Wilford of Elkmont; her two sons, Jimmy (Wanda) Black of Rogersville, and Mickey (Teddy) Black of Paducah, Kentucky; a sister, Beulah Sutton of Middlesboro, Kentucky; his daughter, Carolyn Sue Hall (Jeffery, deceased), of Hilton Head, South Carolina; and his sons, Gary Lynn (Judy) Wilford of Georgetown, Illinois, and Howard Eugene (Gloria) Wilford of Fort Mill, South Carolina; his 10 grandchildren; his 21 great-grandchildren; and his one great-grandchild.
He was laid to rest in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Published on July 10, 2017