Mary S. Clifford
Of Watkins Glen, passed away peacefully at home on Monday, October 18, 2021 at the tender age of 82. She was predeceased by her parents Elmer and Dorothy (Baldwin) Schmidt of Honeoye Falls, and her brother Bernard Schmidt. She is survived by her husband of 59 years Thomas B Clifford of Watkins Glen, NY, sisters Rita Balconi of Phoenix, AZ and Jean (Jim) DeSena of Denver, CO, and her five children: Paul (Stacey Edwards), Matthew (Anna), Peter (Wendy), Nora (Joseph) Bell and Neil (Julia Parete). Mary is also survived by her twelve grandchildren: Katie, Nicole, Kathleen, Ginny, Joey, Fiona, Kevin, Tim, Georgia, Meghan, Riley, and Noah.
Mary was born in Rochester, NY on Halloween in 1938. She spent her childhood on the shores of Conesus Lake where she enjoyed water skiing behind her father’s boat, a Chris-Craft named “My Mary”. She attended Nazareth College where she majored in Business. Mary met her husband Tom while in college and they were married in 1962 in Rochester at St. Anne’s Catholic Church. While rearing five young children, Mary also pursued her career as an Avon Lady on the side. She and the family moved to Watkins Glen in 1976 and opened Clifford Chevrolet-Buick, Inc. Mary went to work at the car dealership shortly thereafter, where she served as the office manager, bookkeeper and de facto boss for the next twenty-two years. Her organizational skills and attention to detail kept the good ship Clifford afloat through many difficult times, and her steady influence was a source of pride and inspiration to her family.
Throughout the years Mary enjoyed her family, quietly shepherding her brood to and from school, church, and other various endeavors while guiding them through the ups and downs of everyday life. In addition, she was a longstanding member of the League of Women’s Voters and a regular at Mary Jane Henby’s beauty salon, where her famous beehive hairdo was sculpted on a weekly basis while the next coat of Fire Engine Red nail polish was applied.
While she was often understated in person and avoided the limelight, Mary was a tireless behind-the-scenes worker who always rose to the occasion. She took immense pride in caring for her family. Dinner was on the table at six o’clock sharp every night, and while she would be the first to dismiss any allusions to culinary artistry, she did have her “specialties”, namely Scuteri’s pizza on Friday nights (an absolute stroke of genius). She was a devoted wife and mother who took the time to let each of her children know they were loved in their own special way.
Although she was an unassuming and practical person, Mary had a sharp eye for style and fashion that rivaled that of Jackie O. It was well-known that Mary enjoyed a good card game and a healthy manhattan in her time. She was a gin rummy fiend in particular, and was the undisputed champion of the family (sorry, boys!). She lived for the occasional bus trips to Atlantic City with friends to do battle with the one-armed bandit. Put her in front of a slot machine with a bucket of quarters and a pack of Virginia Slims and she was a happy woman.
A special shout-out to the folks at Wright’s Beverage who kept her in a steady supply of scratch-offs and lottery tickets for the last twenty years--it was a good run, folks. While she never hit the big one, it didn’t stop her from trying. Ultimately, it was her family and her husband, Tom, that hit the jackpot.
Also a special thank you to Anita, Kathie, Pam, DeAnne and Muriel who took such loving and tender care of Mary these last few months. Our appreciation is endless. Mary maintained a quiet humor, grace and dignity throughout the entirety of her life and will be remembered fondly by all who knew her. She had a light and a twinkle in her pretty blue eyes all the way to the end.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to the Bernard J Schmidt Memorial Scholarship at Nazareth College.
Calling hours will be held at Royce-Chedzoy Funeral Home in Watkins Glen on Wednesday, October 27th from 4-7pm. A funeral mass will be held at St. Mary’s of the Lake Church in Watkins Glen at 12pm on Thursday, October 28th with subsequent services at Holy Cross Cemetery.
A reception will follow at the new Seneca Lake Event Center located at Clute Park. All are welcome. You may visit her obituary at RoyceChedzoy.com to share a memory of Mary with her family and friends.