Beloved business owner, loving father, grandfather, brother and friend
Clifford L. Stone III, age 79, died suddenly at home Sunday, May 15, 2022, following his recovery from COVID in April. He rebounded and had been home from the hospital for a month, in the town that loved him so much.
The son of Clifford L. Stone II and Evelyn E. Schenk, Cliff was born September 20, 1942 in South Bristol. After graduating from Naples Central School in 1961, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was stationed for the duration of his service in Germany, where he made close friends and fond memories: the deliciousness of an ice cream cone after being stuck on base and the places he discovered on leave.
Cliff was a gentle soul who appreciated the little things—corn on the cob, strawberry shortcake the way his wife used to make it, a great book or movie, coffee with his friends. He especially adored his granddaughters. He laughed and marveled at their reactions to life as he watched them grow to ages 11 and 7.
As the local milkman for more than 40 years, Cliff was an institution in Naples, NY, where he traced the streets, inching his milk truck from house to house, dashing into houses to deposit fresh milk, eggs and orange juice directly to customers' refrigerators.
Jo Lyn Nunes of Naples wrote in his memory, "No matter what sort of craziness was going on, through a side or back door, without a word or a knock, would walk the kindest of gentlemen, causing kids to wonder at the calm that adults exhibited to this 'stranger' entering unannounced. Confusion would only multiply when Mom or Dad, completely unmoved from any state of dress or present activity would simply respond, 'Oh, hi Cliff,' as he disappeared as quickly as he arrived. The scene would repeat weekly for ten or twelve years before these children figured out if this man was a close friend, a family member, or someone more resembling Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy."
Cliff once had as many as 170 homes on his route. As a child and teen, his daughter helped deliver, and in times of illness, local friends and relatives covered for him.
Naples did that throughout Cliff's life, for him and his wife of 39 years Susan C. Stone through her illness and many surgeries. The community always supported them.
Cliff tried to do the same in return. He was an elected member of the school board at Naples Central School for 25 years. During that time, he also served as president.
Cliff retired from the home delivery side of his business in 2009 to focus on commercial accounts such as restaurants, schools, stores and the like. He continued working until 2018, when at 76, Cliff, exhausted with the flu, could not take another step. His body forced him into retirement. He was hospitalized and thankfully recovered to enjoy his last years relaxing, finally, enjoying his time, his family and friends.
Cliff will be remembered as a gentleman and devoted grandfather, an animal lover. He was intelligent, respectful, friendly, compassionate, honest to a fault, and of course, hard working. He was a living example of human decency from a bygone era.
Cliff is predeceased by his wife Susan Stone, his brothers Bruce Stone, Clayton Schenk Jr., Gary Schenk and sister Sharon Jennings. He is survived by his daughter, for whom Cliff was a lifelong role model of integrity, his granddaughters Lulu and Sunny Calabrese, his son-in-law Michael Calabrese; sisters Marilyn Faber, Diane Yacuzzo; brothers Robert Schenk and Duane Schenk, and countless dear, dear friends.
A service to honor Cliff will be held at 11:00 AM, Tuesday, May 24 at First Baptist Church, 125 North Main St. in Naples. Rev. Ken Sisson will officiate. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the First Baptist church, which has supported the Stones throughout their lives.