Longtime Fallon resident lost fight against the coronavirus
Danny Clifford was passionate about his family, community and, of course, baseball.
Clifford, who grew up in Fallon and pitched for the 1974 state championship baseball team, and his family were embraced by the community 21 years ago when his middle child, Brian, died from a rare form of liver cancer. Along with his wife, Debra, they continued to raise Eric and Sheila, instilling in them the importance of family and keeping to their faith, especially during life’s most trying times.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate the sacrifices that my parents made for us, especially considering the medical attention that my brother, Brian, needed,” Eric said. “I’m awed at how my parents continued to raise us, meet our needs and showed us love, while balancing hospital visits and other setbacks, and eventually the loss of my brother. They left us an example of how to love each other through trying times, and how their faith in God kept them strong. I’ll be forever thankful for the example they’ve left.”
Danny, the longtime Fallon native, died on Dec. 8, five days after being discharged from Banner Churchill Community Hospital where he stayed 12 days fighting COVID-19, the coronavirus that has taken more than a quarter-million lives in the United States.
Sheila, the youngest of the Cliffords, and her family have been awestruck by the amount of support from the community regarding her father’s death. Just like when the community reached out to the Cliffords more than two decades ago, the support has been both overwhelming and comforting, knowing how much Danny impacted his fellow community members.
“The community meant a lot to my dad. Seeing and reading all of the kind things people are saying about him truly makes my heart smile,” Sheila said. “I don’t think that he fully grasped just how big of an impact that he made on our community. He was always wanting to support all Greenwave sports teams, even if he didn’t know any of the kids that were playing. He was involved in multiple different organizations around Fallon, the main one being Nevada Bighorns Unlimited. He poured his heart and soul into that for many years. Hunting and outdoors was a huge part of his life and he loved to share that with as many people as he could.”
Jack Beach, who knew Danny from his playing days in the 1970s, thought of the standout pitcher first as a family man who put his faith first and let the rest take care of itself. Whether it was guiding his family through the tough patch of losing a loved one or devoting many hours to make sure his state team would be inducted into the Greenwave Hall of Fame, Danny was passionate about everything.
“He was a great family man. His faith and family meant everything to him,” Beach recalled. “He worked extremely hard to turn himself into an outstanding pitcher who played an integral part of the 1974 state championship team. Danny loved living in Fallon and Greenwave athletics, especially baseball, were very important to him. He was so excited when the 1974 team was inducted into the Hall of Fame and the chance to catch up with all his teammates.”
One of his close friends since they graduated from Fallon, Randy Beeghly, said they played slow-pitch softball together, playing in several tournaments in the region. They also made several trips to the Bay Area to watch Danny’s favorite team, the San Francisco Giants.
But one of his fondest memories of Danny was when he met his wife.
“I was fortunate enough to be around him when he first started dating his wife,” Beeghly said. “He was over the moon excited to be dating her, and obviously he made a great choice. Danny was a really nice guy, and he was very thoughtful, very passionate and caring about the things he loved in life. He was very committed, passionate and devoted to the things he so cared about. We had many deep discussions on many things in life.”
Torie Sandberg, a longtime friend, also noticed how much he cared about his family.
“He and Debra made a great team, supporting each other through life. He had an unwavering love for his children,” Sandberg said. “He modeled strength, love and faith for them. A precious gift that will be with them forever. Danny was a reliable friend with a warm and caring spirit. He will be loved and held forever in so many hearts.”
A die-hard Giants fan like Danny, Debbie Swisher enjoyed discussing baseball, including the occasional meme about the Dodgers not performing well in the playoffs until this year. But it was the subtle acts of kindness – even as simple as a wave – that Swisher remembers the most.
“It didn’t matter if you saw him at a sporting event or the grocery store, he always took the time to say ‘hi’ and ask how everyone was doing,” she said. “He walked his dogs down Rice Road and had a wave for us whenever we drove by. (Swisher’s daughter) Zoey even commented on how she’ll miss Dan’s wave when she would drive by and see him walking his dogs. We will miss his presence around town. He was always genuine and good-natured.”
Dave Lumos, who coached the 1974 state baseball championship team, remembered Danny as being a fighter, especially during that season when he bounced back and finished strong, pitching the final game.
“He did a heck of a job. The thing I remember about Danny is he was a fighter,” Lumos said. “He improved throughout the whole year and won some important games. There was a real bond between me and Danny. He did a lot of things. He really did add a lot to our team. We had a special team that year. His positive attitude was always part of that leadership. I’ll never forget him.”
Both Eric and Sheila find comfort that although their father is no longer with them, he’s now back with their brother, watching over the family.
“Those who know him well know that my dad lost a piece of his heart 21 years ago. That piece was our brother, Brian,” Sheila said. “How could I be angry when I can find peace in knowing that they are finally reunited? That’s a reunion that brings a smile to my face. I can only imagine what it was like. I find peace in knowing that we will all be reunited again one day. Until that day comes, I strive to only make him proud and carry on the amazing legacy that he left behind.”