ALBANY -- Lamar Clifton, age 84, a native Albanian who served his community for many years as the Chief Executive of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, died at Morningside of Albany on April 23, 2013. His funeral service will at the First United Methodist Church on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 2 PM. Visitation will be in Ford Hall at the church from 1230 to 2 PM. The Reverend Dr's. Don Adams and Don Kea will officiate. Interment will follow at Crown Hill Cemetery with military honors.
Lamar, the son of Charles Bruce and Sallie Hopkins Clifton, was born in Albany on April 18, 1929. He was imbued with a love of Albany, SOWEGA, and his native state, and never stopped working for them. His career began in the late 1930s at the age of nine as an Albany Herald "downtown" salesman. Those were the Depression Days, followed by World War II. His sales netted him 35 cents per day, connected him with the business community, and led to his love of the Chamber of Commerce.
He graduated from Albany High School in 1946. After receiving the Salesman's Club Scholarship, he attended North Georgia College, where he earned the Outstanding Scholar/Athlete Award. He transferred to the University of Georgia, where he continued in many extra-curricular activities including Blue Key and Gridiron Society. He was President of the Demosthenian Debate Society. He received his BA Degree in Journalism from UGA in 1950.
While in ROTC at UGA, he served as the Cadet Lieutenant Colonel commanding the armored battalion for the school year 1949-50. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army after graduation, and then activated his commission soon after the Korean War started. He served at the Armored School at Fort Knox, Kentucky; the 82nd Airborne Division, 44th Tank Battalion, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and then with the 140th Tank Battalion in Korea in the Sniper's Ridge, Iron Triangle area. Once promoted to First Lieutenant, he served at Division Headquarters of the 40th Infantry Division as an Intelligence Operations Officer. He was decorated with the Bronze Star Medal "for ground operations against the enemy", the Korean Service Medal with 2 Bronze Service Stars, and the United Nations Service Medal.
His fiancee Evelyn Butler had waited faithfully throughout "the longest year" for Lamar's return. They were married on May 23, 1953. Following their honeymoon, Lamar studied at the University of Florida for one year, and then returned to UGA where he earned his Master's Degree in Education. After teaching high school in Athens and Albany, he began his career in Chamber of Commerce work at the Albany Chamber, followed by the Columbia, SC Chamber, the United States Chamber of Commerce, and the Mobile, AL Chamber. While in Columbia, he briefly left the Chamber and served as General Manager of WIS Radio for 3 years.
In 1973, the job he had dreamed of having since his days as a paper boy for the Albany Herald became available, and he returned home to serve as the Executive Vice President of the Albany Chamber of Commerce. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Naval Air Station closed, threatening the local economy. Working with community leaders, Lamar was successful in persuading Miller Brewing Company, Delco Remy, Tara Foods, and the U.S. Marine Corps Logistics Group, Philadelphia, to locate in Albany. Additionally, Proctor and Gamble and other companies expanded locally, reinvigorating the town he loved. He left the Chamber in early 1987, and joined First State Bank as Senior Vice President for Economic Development until his retirement in 1994.
During his Chamber of Commerce years, Lamar was invited to be a guest lecturer for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institutes at the Universities of Notre Dame, USC at Santa Barbara CA, Colorado at Boulder, Delaware, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Georgia. He was also an instructor at the University of South Carolina and at Darton College.
His record in community development speaks for itself. Three events particularly indicate his success: in 1965, he was offered the prestigious position of President of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives Association in Washington, DC, which he did not accept as he did not want to leave the South. In 1989, he received the Rip Wiley Award from the Georgia Industrial Developers Association recognizing his cumulative successes in this very competitive field. Thirdly, his peers recognized him by electing Lamar President of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Executives Association, and later, of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Executives Association.
Following his semi-retirement in 1994, he was successful as an author, business writer, and consultant. He enjoyed his hobbies - gardening, photography, writing and spending time with his four grandsons. He loved all sports, especially pulling for his Bulldogs, Braves, and Falcons. He helped lead the effort to preserve the Radium Springs Casino, authoring the book, "Skywater, a Comprehensive History of Radium Springs" which was published by Morgan Murphy. He also wrote a history book, A First State Corporation Legacy.
He was particularly proud of his commitment to his church, First United Methodist, where he was a member of the Administrative Council and the "Beyond 2000" Planning Committee, and served as an Usher for many years. He was a dedicated member of the Albany Rotary Club, serving as its President and as a Paul Harris fellow. He was a member of the Dougherty County Hospital Authority for several years. During his 11 years in Columbia, he served as Deacon and Sunday School teacher of college men at Kilbourne Park Baptist Church. Lamar served on the Boards of Cosmos Broadcasting Company and Bankers Trust of South Carolina (later C&S). He was President of the Brennan School PTA, and Vice President of the United Way of Columbia.
His life would not have been complete without the love of his wife of 60 years, Evelyn, his children and grandchildren, and his many friends and colleagues. He always believed in people, and attacked every project/goal with a "CAN-DO" positive spirit.
Lamar is survived by his wife, Evelyn; a son Dr. Charles Lamar "Chip" Clifton, Jr. (Bonnie), Johns Creek, GA; daughter Cary Clifton Stoudenmire (Phillip) Albany; son Dodd Clifton Columbus, GA; brother, Butch Clifton (Mary Nelle) Athens, GA; sister/cousin Vann Whaley Thomson (David) Coral Gables, FL; grandsons, Charlie (Laura Leigh) Stoudenmire, Augusta; Butler Stoudenmire, Albany; Clay and Will Clifton, Johns Creek, GA; Aunt LaRue Clifton, Tifton, GA; and numerous nephews, nieces and cousins. He was predeceased by his parents, Bruce and Sallie Clifton, and two brothers, James Robert "Bobo" Clifton, and Bill Brosnan Clifton.
The family would like to thank his caregivers: Polly Green, Shawn Lewis, James Harris, and Mattie Stephens; the wonderful nursing staff in the Gardens of Morningside; the caring nurses and aides from Hospice; and his lifelong friend, Russell Cates.
Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church, 307 Flint Avenue, Albany, GA, 31701, the Albany Community Hospice, 320 Foundation Lane, Albany, GA 31707, or to your favorite charity.
You may sign the guestbook and share your thoughts with the family of Mr. Clifton by visiting Kimbrell-Stern's website at www.kimbrellstern.com.
Kimbrell-Stern Funeral Directors