Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Madaline Clifford (née Ringeisen) passed away peacefully at home on January 17 2017 surrounded by family after an eventful 93 years of being a loving wife, mother, grandmother, world traveler, medical secretary, beloved friend to many, dedicated bridge player, golfer, and virtuosic cookie-maker and pie-baker.
Born on July 23, 1923 in Pittsburg Pennsylvania, Betty spent her youth and young adulthood in the city, attending the University of Pittsburg for 2 years before moving to Philadelphia to work in the office of the American Friends Service Committee. Her position led her to volunteer with the Friends Service Unit, a post-war relief organization that was undertaking general and medical relief work in central China. After a voyage that involved a cross-country train and a trip across the Pacific in a converted troop-ship, Betty worked predominantly in Shanghai, where she witnessed the Chinese Communist Party take over the government from the Chinese National Party in October 1949. It was in China that Betty met her future husband, a New Zealander, Douglas John Clifford, who was also volunteering with the Friends Service Unit. After a trip around the world that took her to England, where she undertook work as a medical secretary, and to Edinburgh, where she took in the Fringe Festival, Betty returned home to Pittsburgh. Soon thereafter, on August 4 1951, Betty married Douglas in Toronto.
She and Douglas then moved to Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan, where Douglas worked as the local physician for 2 years, and then subsequently to New Zealand, where they lived in Johnsonville. During their 7-year stay in New Zealand their first 3 children – Ronald, Shirley, and Susan – were born. Relocating back to North America to be closer to her family, Betty and Doug settled in Port Alberni, where their daughter Wendy was born. Not only was Betty known in Port Alberni for her assistance with the smooth running of her husband’s medical practice and for her hours spent volunteering with the West Coast General Hospital Auxiliary, where she played a role in starting the Attic, the Hospital Gift Shop, and the Candy Striper program, she was an avid golfer and bridge player – both of which she enjoyed immensely in no small part due to the numerous friends she made.
Known for her bubbly, infectious laugh, her keen wit, her sharp-eyed wisdom, and her clear sense of self, Betty lived her life with passion. She cared deeply for the people around her, and lived according to a principle of loyalty to that pervaded each act of each day. Betty will be remembered for the tears of laughter at the dinner table, the steadfast support and unwavering love, the countless homemade cookies at Christmas time, the expert lemon meringue pies, the unfailing presence of a full dinner with dessert regardless of the occasion, and, foremost, the audacious example of a life well-lived.
She is survived by her husband, Dr. Douglas Clifford, her four children Ronald (Anna), Shirley, Susan, and Wendy (Brad), her six grandchildren, Tristan, Jayme, Nicholas, Rory, Hanne, and Trent, and by her two surviving siblings Wilson (Skip) Ringeisen and Sally Blyth in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Clifford wishes to thank all those who offered support with words, flowers, cards, and e-mails in the midst of his recent bereavement, your caring has made it much easier to accept the loss of a wonderful wife and companion. His family joins him in these sentiments. Special thanks to Dr. Arno Kitshoff.
Betty was much beloved by all who knew her, and will be deeply missed. A family gathering was held to celebrate a life well-lived on January 20, 2017.