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Blog Feature

By: Marissa Salvesen on November 16th, 2015

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

Stories and Spotlights

how-does-your-garden-grow-cliff-davisMeet Cliff Davis, a New York native and World War II veteran who worked for IBM for over 40 years! Along with raising his three children with his wife, Hilda, he enjoys fishing, gardening, and the great outdoors. These days, he is a familiar face in the “Belles and Beaus” bell choir, well- known for his entertaining antics in-between songs. He can also be found sharing his wartime experience with local students, especially around Veterans Day.

Clifford Davis, or “Cliff” as he is known, has lived at one of our award-winning UMH communities since 2012. On any given morning at the breakfast hour, Cliff can be seen with his tablemates discussing world events and solving the world’s problems, all before 8 A.M. Stop by Middlewoods of Farmington Independent and Assisted Living Community around this time and you might catch Cliff and his friends Bill, Charlie, and Pierre knee-deep in conversation at the “square table” as they call it, a scene reminiscent of the counter at your local diner. But after the daily news has been analyzed and the sports scores checked out, when someone needs a listening ear, Cliff is the one many residents seek out. He generously extends a hand of compassion and friendship to any of his Middlewoods neighbors in the community he now calls home.

Cliff was born on August 11, 1924 in Kingston, New York where his dad owned and operated a “Mom and Pop” style grocery store. Like so many small stores at that time in our history, his dad’s business fell victim to the “depression.” Shortly after, Cliff, his parents, and four brothers: Bruce, Matthew, Fred and Paul, spent time in Ashokan, New York with grandparents.

WWII called Cliff into the armed forces in October 1942. He accepted the call and found himself in uniform for the United States Army Air Force, eventually stationed in England in the area of Ipswich and Martlesham Heath. Though wartime brought difficult circumstances, Cliff, or “Staff Sergeant Davis” as he was known at that time, met his sweetheart, Hilda. They were married in Liverpool in 1945 and after Cliff was discharged from the service in 1945, he and Hilda settled down in Port Ewen, New York. They went on to raise a family of two girls; Beverly and Susan and their son, Clifford III.

Initially Cliff spent his post-war employment with the New York State Taxation Department and in 1948 joined the ranks of IBM, where he was employed until his retirement in April of 1990. He enjoyed the outdoors with his family and could often be found exploring the many fishing holes and waterways throughout upstate New York. An avid gardener, his flowers and vegetables were often the topic of friendly conversation and coveted by his neighbors.

Sadly in January of 2011, Cliff lost his daughter Beverly. Shortly thereafter in December of the following year, he said good-bye to his English sweetheart, Hilda. His daughter Susan, no longer wanting her father to live so far away in New York State, convinced him to move to Farmington, Connecticut to be closer to her and her husband Paul. Months later, Cliff is now a familiar face at Middlewoods of Farmington, busy with activities and events and just about anything that is going on. He can also be seen frequently directing Susan and Paul in the Middlewoods gardens. Though several hip operations have limited Cliff’s active gardening enterprises at Middlewoods, his daughter and son-in-law offer their helping hands in tending to the gardens, making them a long distance version of his home gardens in New York.

Walking through the doors of Middlewoods, Cliff’s apartment can be easily recognized by his collections. Carved wooden sailors. Lighthouses. Christmas figurines. His love of collecting can be spotted at different times throughout the year. Stop by Cliff’s apartment and he will surely share the significance of each of his collections.

Cliff is also an active member of the Middlewoods of Farmington “Belles and Beaus” bell choir and travels with the group to local skilled nursing facilities and other venues to perform and entertain. He is usually responsible for the short and witty conversations sprinkled in between the songs. Cliff willingly shares his wartime experience along with his “buddies” and fellow veterans, Bob, Charlie, and Pierre. The men have been given the opportunity to share their stories in classrooms and auditoriums, and one-on-one with local students. He also spends his time enjoying weekly outings, and participating in several different community outreach projects with Middlewoods throughout the year.

Need some gardening advice? Be sure to stop by and talk to Cliff (after the breakfast hour, of course)…

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About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

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