Clifford John Earley, Jr., September 16, 1936-February 8, 2014, died peacefully at home after a short battle with cancer.
Cliff is survived by his loving wife of thirty years, Maggie, a daughter, Elizabeth Glassman of Guilford, Ct., a son, Steve Earley (Angela) of Denver, CO , and two grown grandchildren, Tyler and Morgan Glassman. He is also survived by two sisters, Ann Purcell (Tommy) and Mary Lou Leonard (Sonny), all of North Branford , Ct. and a plethora of nieces and nephews .
He grew up in Hamden, Ct. and was a graduate of Quinnipiac College (now University). He was skilled at ice hockey in his youth and once played in Madison Square Garden against a team he swore were all shaving and out on bail. Golf, too, was an important part of Cliff’s youth, both as caddy and player.
Cliff served in the US Army during the Cold War, and spent a year on an Aleutian island (Alaska) watching the Russians watching us and a year in Germany, also watching the Russians watching us.
Cliff’s career was in sales, management, and marketing, initially with grocery chains in Connecticut. Eventually he joined the Susan Bates Company, a New England manufacturer of retail knitting, crochet, and sewing implements. Warned that three prior salesmen had abandoned his first territory, he accepted the challenge, becoming the top sales producer in the company.
Living in Richmond, Va., he was a member of the Richmond Country Club, coached son Steve’s sports teams, and was active in community activities.
Promoted to Vice President, Cliff returned to Connecticut and was key in expanding Bates’ lines into knitting yarns, embroidery floss, and instruction books. He also served as president of the National Needlework Association, a trade group.
While living in Chester, Ct. Cliff was elected to the Chester Board of Finance and served on the school building committee. He was president of the Middlesex County Manufacturers Association and a charter member of the Black Hall Club, a private golf course in Old Lyme where he also served as president.
In a rash moment, Cliff and Maggie bought a failing manufacturing company and worked side by side turning it around. Outgrowing the original space, they moved to a building five times larger, upgraded the equipment and added an automated coating system. And grew. After a few years someone walked in off the street and offered to buy the whole thing.
They chose Wilmington as their new home. Cliff was the first president of the Country Club of Landfall. Active on many committees, he particularly enjoyed supporting the Landfall Tradition, an annual collegiate women’s tournament. In his golfing career he had nine holes in one and shot his age twice. He had a low tolerance for players who fudged scores, adjusted lies, played too slowly, or drove carts irrationally.
He served on the New Hanover County Hospital Foundation Board.
Cliff was a man of great humor, high intelligence, a zest for life, and a loving and loyal spirit. He and Maggie happily traveled the world during the good years of retirement before ill health interfered.
In recent years , Cliff confronted a number of difficult and painful physical challenges requiring major surgeries and long recoveries. He overcame each insult and returned to a normal, if modified, lifestyle.
His final illness won.
No formal services are planned at this time.
Memorial gifts should go to the Landfall Tradition or Lower Cape Fear Hospice, whose magnificent support and love were key in making his last journey a peaceful one.
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Wilmington Funeral & Cremation, Village Road Chapel.