Stanley Clifford passed away Aug. 15, at home where he wanted so much to be during his final years.
Stanley was born June 19, 1928, in Brooklyn, N.Y., but spent much of the first 10 years of his life living in Gin Cove, Newfoundland. In 1938, in the midst of an epic hurricane, Stanley, his mother and his sister arrived back in New York aboard the SS Townsend, moving to the Prospect Park area of Brooklyn. His high school days were centered on the many activities associated with All Saints Episcopal Church on 7th Avenue. It was there that he met Ethel Gladys Skeans, who was to become his wife in 1950. After being married in All Saints, they acted on the recommendation of William Kienbusch — initially one of Stanley’s art teachers in the Brooklyn Art Students League, but someone who would remain a friend and confidant throughout his life — leaving Brooklyn for a two-year honeymoon in Deer Isle. During those two years, they lived in Stonington and on Eagle Island, where, for a period of time, Stanley joined Andrew Gove as a sternman, a working relationship that evolved into a friendship that would last for the rest of his life.
In 1952, Ethel and Stanley returned to Brooklyn, where Stanley began to build on the art training he had received after graduating from high school, eventually becoming a hand leather bookbinder at Bennett Book Studio in Manhattan. He came to be respected as one of the finest craftsmen practicing this trade, a reputation that allowed work to follow him to Deer Isle when he and Ethel moved back to the island in 1966 — taking up residence on the King Row.
Shortly after 1980, Stanley retired from the binding trade and established himself as an accomplished rare book dealer. Over the course of the next 20 years he would occupy store locations in Stonington, Deer Isle and Blue Hill, adding the sale of prints to his continuing involvement in the used and rare book trade. In the early 2000s, Stanley finally retired for good, or, as Ethel was fond of saying, “He simply brought all his unsold books back to the King Row!”
Stanley is survived by his sons Leslie (Elizabeth) of Pittsfield, Mass., and Stuart (Susan) of Savannah, Ga. He is also survived by three grandchildren, Catherine of Brooklyn, N.Y., Amy Hill (Joseph) of Richmond, Va., and Grace of Atlanta, Ga., and his great-grandson, Declan Hill. Additionally, he is survived by his sister, Phyllis Teatum (Michael) of Goshen, N.Y., and his brother, David (Kathleen) of New Jersey, and various nieces and nephews.
Stanley was predeceased by his parents, Lily Grace King and William Charles Clifford, and his wife, Ethel Skeans Clifford.
Special thanks are owed to his neighbors, who offered him wonderful support and assistance during the years he lived alone after his wife passed away, and to Sonya, Yvonne, Kristen, Mary and Daniel — all of whom provided invaluable care for Stanley as he lived out his final six months in his home. Finally, it is important to acknowledge with special words of thanks and gratitude the care, respect and companionship extended by Nichole Hammett, for whom this family is extremely grateful, and without whom Dad would not have had the quality of life he was able to experience these last 15 years.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Stanley’s name may be made to the Ethel Skeans Clifford Scholarship at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, or to the Chase Emerson Memorial Library located in Deer Isle.
Plans for a memorial service and for internment have not been completed at this time.