One Nation, Under God

Clifford Gayle Conlon (January 16, 1936 - June 25, 2024)

Clifford Gayle Conlon, a man loved by many, passed peacefully from this earth into the paradise of heaven on Tuesday morning, June 25, 2024, in Bozeman, Montana.

Cliff was born prematurely at his grandmother Dot Verry's home in Saco, Montana, on January 16, 1936, to Elinor May (Verry) and Charles Clifford Conlon, who had been killed in a car accident the month prior to his birth. He was not expected to live and credits Grandma Verry with saving his life by continuing to rub his body and eventually putting him in a warm oven in her kitchen.

He was raised in Saco by his aunt and uncle, Dorothy and Glenn Conlon, sister and brother of mother and father and considered them "Ma" and "Pa" his entire life. He enjoyed a childhood that allowed him to explore the hills of the Saco area and much of his time was spent on the homestead of his grandparents Frank and Amanda Conlon.

He befriended Snaps, a dog who meant the world to him. He loved to fish, hunt, and play in the vast open lands of eastern Montana. During high school, he played basketball for the Saco Panthers along with multiple years of working on the annual staff. While still in school he lied about his age and became a "gandy dancer," along with friends, on the Great Northern Railroad until the boss found out they weren't of legal age. He would later work, legitimately, for the Great Northern Railroad from May 1955 through February 1964. Cliff attended Kinman Business University in Spokane, Washington, and earned his associate's degree in business administration on April 15, 1955. During his time in school, he worked as a butler for a prominent Spokane family. "Gayle" married Patty Breipohl on January 20, 1957, and their first child, Michael Alan, was born on October 18, 1957, followed by Lori Ellen on December 30, 1958. The family was complete with the birth of David John on August 8, 1967. This marriage lasted fourteen years.

Cliff was a very successful sales manager and executive for Amoco Oil Company, a career that spanned twenty-seven years and allowed him to call many different places home: Billings, Canyon City, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Kansas City, Lenexa, and Denver. Prior to his Amoco Oil days, he and Patty were successful in selling for the Sarah Coventry Jewelry Company.

On August 20, 1988, Clifford married Elaine Jennings and they enjoyed almost thirty years of marriage. They built their dream home and yard from the ground up in Cedaredge, Colorado, where they lived for twelve years before moving to Grand Junction, Colorado, in May of 2010, Cliff was heartbroken when Elaine died on July 3, 2020. He continued to live in their home in Grand Junction before moving to Bozeman on May 1, 2024, where he took up residence at The Springs assisted living community until his death.

Cliff was an expert in all things World War II, an interest sparked in his boyhood by his Uncle Jack Verry's service to his country and his stepfather, Wes Wardell's service in the RAF as a fighter pilot. In 2007, along with son Mike, daughter-in-law Toni, and grandsons Chris and Lucas, Cliff had the trip of his lifetime to Europe, arriving in Normandy on D-Day, June 6. While in Normandy, they stayed at the historic Chateau de Colombi Eres – where the liberation of France was declared – and he had the thrill of visiting with WWII vets from all over the world at the famed Pegasus Bridge Café.

Along with history, Cliff loved music, playing the piano as a young boy and taking up jazz guitar along the way. He recorded thousands of hours of jazz programs from radio stations across the country and loved attending live musical performances. He attended the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival two years in a row with Lori, at the hosting University of Idaho in Moscow. He was good about keeping in touch with friends and family and wrote many letters in his beautiful cursive. For years he made the "Montana Loop," in August and September, visiting with his children, grandchildren, extended family, and friends at the Railroad Reunion and the Saco Fun Days. For many years running he never missed either of those events. He greatly enjoyed serving as the emcee of each year's Railroad Reunion and pitching in to wash dishes at the Saco Methodist Church's Fun Day pie sale!

The sports world gave Cliff a way to connect with his children and grandchildren and he loved talking with them about football, baseball, and basketball. An avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and both the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, he traveled regularly to games with son David who will forever hold fond memories of those travels and games.

Cliff was a dedicated member of the Cedaredge Lions Club and a lifelong member of the Saco Methodist Church, where his Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, September 1, 2024, at 1:00 p.m. with a reception back at the church following the graveside prayers.

Clifford Gayle Conlon was preceded in death by his birth mother, Elinor Wardell, his parents Glenn and Dorothy Conlon, his brother Jay Conlon, and his wife, Elaine Conlon. He is survived by his sister, Janis Dimmitt; children, Mike (Toni) Conlon, Lori Conlon (Ather) Khan, and David Conlon; grandchildren Chris (Quiana) Conlon, Lucas (Kassy) Conlon, Sidrah Khan, Sharif Khan, Khadija Khan, and David Hamilton Conlon; great-granddaughters Adira, Oraya, Ruby, and Zaylee Conlon; and numerous friends across the country.

The family would like to thank the wonderful staff and caretakers at The Springs in Bozeman for their gracious and tender care, particularly Scott, Shannon, Alex, and Nicki. Memorial donations in Cliff's name may be sent to the Saco Methodist Church or to your local animal shelter.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service.


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