Gail (Bryant) Clifford, 78, of Douglassville, passed away on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in her home surrounded by her loving family. Born on December 15, 1943 to the late Herbert Lewis and Ada (Nash) Bryant formerly of Ashland, Virginia. Gail's grandmother, mother, and she shared the same birth month and day. She is survived by her loving husband, Curtis D. Clifford Jr., of Douglassville, Pennsylvania, with whom she celebrated 54 years of marriage. She is also survived by her son, Jeffery Bryant Clifford, husband of Jennifer Fox, of Los Angeles; daughter Jennifer Clifford Simpson, of Raleigh, NC; grandchildren; Anna Nash Simpson, Miles Andrew Simpson, Agnes Fox-Clifford, and Harry Fox-Clifford, as well as many special friends. Gail was preceded in death by her parents and brother, Herbert Bryant.
Gail lived a life full of learning, teaching, giving, and receiving surrounded by her friends and community members, going the distance to preserve relationships with her family and with lifelong friends who lived out of town. She cherished spending time with her grandchildren, and she had a special and unique relationship with each of them. In her youth, she loved being with big groups of family, especially remembering Sunday dinners at her Granny's farm in rural Virginia. She brought a certain Southern charm to all she knew. She enjoyed telling the story of how, as a teenager, she ventured as far north as Philadelphia with friends to dance on TV at Dick Clark's American Bandstand. She said her daddy was quite distressed about the idea, but let her go anyway.
Gail was enamored with pineapples as a symbol of hospitality. Over the years at her Douglassville home, Gail accumulated seemingly the most expansive collection of pineapples in all the land, even including etchings throughout her wallpapered kitchen. She enjoyed preparing parties so much that after she retired from several decades of teaching, she started a business with a friend coordinating weddings and special celebrations for others. And Gail carried this with her to her volunteer efforts as Finance Director with the Friends of Reading Hospital through which she also co-chaired several big events and galas raising significant sums for critical needs of the hospital community. She also loved gathering friends and family from three rental houses at the Jersey Shore each summer for about 25 years, driven by the need to celebrate summer birthdays in a special way.
After graduating from the all-girls Madison College, now James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Gail was the librarian at Stonewall Jackson Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia. Through a mutual friend she met Curt, a Yankee from Connecticut, on a triple date when they went to a Washington Senators baseball game and that was the beginning of a lifetime with him. They settled in Pennsylvania where Curt worked for the local gas utility. Gail continued teaching in Pennsylvania, earner her master's degree in library science from Kutztown University and retired from Daniel Boone Area School District after many years teaching and overseeing the elementary and middle school libraries. Every student who went through the system in those years acquired important knowledge and common-sense habits from Mrs. Clifford, such as how to do topical research in the library and that one should never chew gum in her classroom.
Gail was active in the community throughout her life. Paying homage to her college sorority, she served several years as a regional advisor for the Alpha Sigma Alpha national sorority. In her local community, she served as president for the Douglassville Women's Club in the mid- 1970's. While her children were in school, she was a leader and a doer for the scouts, sports boosters, the football stadium snack bar, and just about anywhere else she was needed. Later, she became even more involved in church life at St. Paul's UCC Amityville, where she served at various times as consistory president, Secretary/Treasurer and Trustee of the Church's Home Association, on the board of the after-school SPLASH program, a pepper cabbage-maker for the turkey suppers, and many other posts that built and sustained the church community.
Following her retirement from the Daniel Boone schools, Gail spent several years at Kutztown University as an Adjunct Professor in their Library Science curriculum supervising student teachers in their final year in the program. Gail loved to oversee celebrations and make them meaningful by paying special attention to details including decorations and flowers (no carnations though). Gail thrived on the strong friendships of many who supported each other through their joys, sorrows, and health challenges over the years. She often acknowledged that she and Curt were extremely fortunate to have built deep roots in their adopted community of 50 years and that, from the beginning, it was truly special to them both.
Visitation will be held on Monday May 23, 2022, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Lutz Funeral Home, Inc., 2100 Perkiomen Avenue, Reading, PA 19606. Services will be held on Tuesday May 24, 2022, at 10:30 am at St. Paul's UCC, 1979 Weavertown Rd., Douglassville, PA 19518. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Gail's name can be made to; St. Paul's UCC Amityville Home Association or The Friends of Reading Hospital, 420 S 5th Avenue, West Reading, PA 19611. Lutz Funeral Home, Inc. is in charge of arrangements. For online condolences, please visit www.LutzFuneralHome.com
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