Donald Gifford, 77, U.S. Navy accountant

Donald Louis Gifford, 77, of Naples, FL, formerly Ridgefield, CT, Branford, CT and recently summering in East Norwalk, CT, passed away peacefully in his Naples home on the morning of January 5th after a valiant fight against lung cancer. Born on August 24, 1937 in Cohoes, NY and raised in Brooklyn, NY, he lived a full and happy life surrounded by friends and family. After graduating from Brooklyn Prep., he received a degree in accounting from St. John’s University, allowing him to use his profession to serve in the U.S. Navy. Following his honorable discharge, he was associated with several large accounting firms in New York City. After relocating to Connecticut, he was comptroller of a graphics firm in Stamford for several years. This move brought his family from their roots in Brooklyn to settle in Ridgefield where he followed his true passion for building beautiful homes. After almost 30 years building in Ridgefield and serving the town in many ways such as the Planning and Zoning Board and Republican Town Committee they moved to Branford, CT in 2002 to be closer to the water. He loved Ridgefield and was proud to have served the town in many capacities and make so many wonderful relationships as they raised their children in such beautiful surroundings. His time in Branford was so special as he was able to explore all of the Thimble Islands with his boat, fish in every creek and estuary the area offered, clam in his favorite spots off Owenego point and chase every blue claw crab. In 2012 they moved to East Norwalk allowing them to be with their family as well as so close to their extended family at Sprite Island Yacht Club. Being members there since 1979 they enjoyed the cool summer’s breezes, all the fish and clams he could catch and a life time of special relationships. When not active in the water his time in Marvin Beach watching the oyster boats bring their catch back to Norm Bloom’s oyster house was one of his favorite activities.

He is survived by his loving wife of 53 years, Catharine, and his three children; Robert (Rita) of Westport, CT, Elizabeth Wyman (Jeffrey) of Naples, FL and Scituate, MA and Matthew (Joy) of East Norwalk, CT. Close to his heart were his treasured grandchildren who brought him great joy; Sophie (21) and Emily (18) Wyman, Michael (19) and Peter (17) Gifford, and Jack (10) and Cooper (7) Gifford. Also near and dear to his heart were his furry granddogs, Chappy, Charlie, and Sailor.

In addition to loving his family, he held a never-ending love for the water, both the Gulf of Mexico and the New England waters. Stripers were his favorite, followed by clams, and of course a good lobster. The tide ran his life and depending whether high or low he spent hours crabbing, clamming, and fishing. Not only did he enjoy the hunt, but he especially took great pleasure in sharing his catch with friends, family, and fellow fishermen.

Some of his happiest days involved sitting on the Pelican Bay beach with his wife, spending time with family and friends at Sprite Island Yacht Club, endless hours clamming and all the happy days in Orleans, MA. He was also an active member of the Ridgefield Men’s Club who all knew him as “The Clam Man” for his endless supply for their meetings and events. His generosity in every aspect of life was his true gift to us all!

On Saturday January 31st at 1:15pm, his life will be celebrated with a memorial mass, held at St. Mary’s Church in Ridgefield, CT followed by a gathering at St Mary’s to tell all his greatest fish stories.

We would like to thank all of his caregivers, especially Dr. Kesav Nair, Julie Curti and Dr. Stephen Winter as well as their wonderful staff at the Whittingham Cancer Center at Norwalk Hospital. Additionally Dr. Mark Rubin and all the staff at Florida Cancer Specialists. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Whittingham Cancer Center at Norwalk Hospital, 34 Maple Street Norwalk, CT 06856.

A fond farewell to our beloved Papa, for now we know the tide will always be perfect for his fishing and clamming! We will never forget him and with every fish that graces our hooks we know he is with us.

—by the family