Richard A. Gifford, 67, Clayton

CLAYTON, NY —  Richard A. Gifford, 67, also known as Giff and Sassafras, passed away Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, at his home in Clayton.

He was born in Watertown on August 3, 1953, son of Kenneth C. and Alice L. Zimmer Gifford. He was a graduate of Thousand Islands High School and from a technical school in Arizona, specializing in plumbing, heating, and air conditioning

A marriage to Anne Gross ended in divorce.

On Aug. 3, 2004, Richard married Susan L. Hesler in the Grotto at St. John’s Church, LaFargeville.

Richard worked for Frink Sno-Plow, Clayton for 21 years in shipping and receiving and as a forklift operator.

He enjoyed classic rock music and attending rock concerts. He was well known in the north country as the lead singer in various bands from the 1960s until 2006, including Fresh, Fog, and Underfoot.

Surviving are his wife, Susan; his three children, Cassie C. Gifford, LaFargeville, Nathan D. Gifford, LaFargeville, and Russell S. Smith, Clayton; cherished grandson, Maynard A. Gifford; a sister Susan A. Cencebaugh and husband James, Clayton; a sister-in-law, Linda Gifford, Rosiere; several nieces, nephews, and cousins; 7 step children and 23 step grandchildren; and his best friend since childhood Ronald N. DuFord and his family.

Besides his parents, he was predeceased by a brother James K. Gifford and nephew Douglas R. Millett.

Those who knew Richard will remember him as a dedicated father, a loyal husband, and a fierce friend. His infectious and booming laugh lit up many gatherings even though no one could remember quite why they had started laughing to begin with. His genuine spirit, abundant sense of humor, and enormous heart left an indelible impression on everyone around him. He will be sorely missed.

A prayer service will be held 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, at St. Mary’s Church with Fr. Arthur J. LaBaff presiding. The committal will take place 11:45 a.m. in St. Mary’s Cemetery. Masks and social distancing are required for attendance to all services.

Arrangements are entrusted with Cummings Funeral Service, Inc., Clayton and

Online condolences may be posted at

In lieu of flowers donations in his name may be made to the Clayton Food Pantry, c/o St. Mary’s Church 521 James St., Clayton, NY 13624.