Cliff Salisbury - Faculty/Staff
SMSgt. ANG (Ret.) Clifford Salisbury
"Cliff" passed away peacefully at his Palmer home after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer, attended by his children and surrounded by the love and prayers of his siblings, extended family and friends.
Born in Humboldt, Neb., the first of three children of Lucille Nell (Thompson) and Loren Eddy Salisbury of Centralia, Kan., his family migrated to the Pacific Northwest seeking a better life during the Great Depression, eventually settling in Washington where Cliff graduated from Puyallup High School in 1952.
Cliff came to the then-Territory of Alaska as a lineman with the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Stationed at Palmer and assigned to the Alaska Communication Service, his crew maintained the lines along the Alaska Railroad. He fell in love with Alaska and vowed to eventually make his home there. After his honorable discharge, he earned his B.A. in history and education on the G.I. Bill from Western Washington College of Education - now University - Bellingham in 1960. While there he met, courted, and married Marjorie, his wife of 57 years. They moved to Palmer, Alaska, where Cliff taught school and they had the first of their four children, each born in a different country. Launching an adventurous chapter of worldwide travel, the young couple and their 14-month-old son moved to New Zealand where Cliff taught school. Cliff then taught American high school military dependents for 12 years in England, France, Germany and Canada. During their years abroad, the family spent summers both in Washington where Cliff earned his M.A. in history at Washington State University-Pullman in 1968, and in their beloved Mat-Su Valley, Alaska, purchasing the land where they later built their dream home. In 1975, the family returned to Alaska, where Cliff taught history and government at both Wasilla and Palmer High schools.
Cliff had always nurtured a keen love and deep appreciation for the military and its history and re-enlisted in the Alaska Air National Guard in 1975. He became the 176th Wing Historian and First Sergeant, and after retiring from teaching, he worked full-time as the Command Historian for the Alaska Army and Air National Guard until his retirement in 1994. He authored Soldiers of the Mists: Minutemen of the Alaska Frontier in 1992. He was a member of the American Legion.
In retirement Cliff and Marjorie kept socially active, enjoying traveling, spending time with their many friends, gardening, listening to live folk and Celtic music and attending other cultural events. They were active members of numerous organizations, including the Irish Club of Alaska, Pioneers of Alaska and the Grange. They enjoyed Mat-Su Miners baseball games as season ticket holders. They traveled the world again, revisiting countries where they had lived, exploring new locales and visiting friends and family across the country until Marjorie's passing in 2015. After losing Marjorie, Cliff honored her memory by "soldiering on," traveling and seeking adventure until his recent passing. Cliff was a lifelong learner, researcher and voracious reader of history and literature. He loved to meet new people and visit with old friends. He listened to people's life stories with genuine interest and curiosity. Cliff will be remembered by family and friends for his wit and sense of humor - especially his love of puns and "Ole and Lena" jokes - and ability to make children smile, his love for Alaska, Key overalls and antique tractors; but mostly as a kind and decent man who always lent a hand, defended the truth and spoke out against injustice and for the strong values of his mid-western roots - honor, duty, loyalty to family and the value of honest work - values which he carried with him throughout his life and handed down to his children and grandchildren. He will be forever missed by all who knew and loved him.
Cliff is survived by his children, Mathew (Jon), Vaughn (Sharon), Grant and Laura (Randy); grandchildren, Galen, Meriel and Morgan; step-grandchildren, Shawn, Cheyanne and Ty; siblings, Gerald (Bonnie) and Linda; and by numerous nieces and nephews.
Cliff was interred with military honors at a small, family service alongside his beloved Marjorie at Fort Richardson National Cemetery on June 14, 2021. Cliff always generously supported various charities and organizations. Memorial gifts in his honor may be made to any favorite charity or organization of choice.
Published in the Anchorage Daily News - June 20, 2021