When recently asked what he felt was his greatest accomplishment, William C. Clifton, Sr., born in San Antonio, TX on Oct. 14, 1942, didn’t cite his remarkable professional career which began with his parents’ sacrifices to educate him in a Catholic School and which led to his appointment to the RI District Court bench. Rather, he answered with pride, “my family.” After graduating from California State Univ. at Los Angeles and UCLA Law school, Judge Clifton worked as a staff attorney for Clark County Nevada (Las Vegas) Legal Services before moving to RI to become its first African American Special Asst. RI Attorney General. He went on to serve as Legal Counsel to the RI Commissioner of Education before co-establishing the law firm of Stone, Clifton & Clifton, and later, William Clifton and Associates. He also served as legal counsel for the Public Utilities Commission, Hearing Officer for the State Department of Environmental Management, and Asst. City Solicitor for Cranston, RI. As a young man, his friends nicknamed him “Wild Bill,” a moniker, which perfectly captured his joie de vivre, sense of adventure, and stand-up-comedy humor. Judge Clifton was the consummate jurist, admired for his intellectual acumen and judicial temperament, and respected by colleagues, court personnel, lawyers, and litigants. He was an avid aviation enthusiast and enjoyed piloting around his family and friends. He was also renowned for his incredible cooking and barbecuing skills. Giving back to the community was a lifelong priority and in that vein Judge Clifton served on numerous boards and committees including RI Employers’ Committee for the Support of the Guard and Reserves, Providence Branch NAACP presidency, RI Committee for the Humanities, Beacon Mutual Insurance Company, Trinity Repertory Company Public Trustee, RI Supreme Court Committee on Character and Fitness, Paul Cuffee School, and Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence. Over the years, he also mentored numerous young people, encouraging them to pursue their life’s passions and goals. But perhaps the highlight of his life was the simple time he spent with his family, enjoying day-to-day activities and vacations with them all over the world. When he died on March 25, 2018, he left behind his beloved wife of 38 years, Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson, Judge on the US First Circuit Court of Appeals; his loving children, Reza, William Jr., and Sarah; his older brother, Jay Clifton, retired US Foreign Service Officer, and his wife Michele; his younger brother, Edward Clifton, retired RI Superior Court Judge, and his wife, Audrey; his sister, Mary Kathryn Johnson, retired educator; and his sister-in-law, M. LaVonne Thompson, retired Assistant Attorney General, USVI. He was predeceased by his parents, Junior C. Clifton and Willie C. Clifton. He also leaves behind numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends who are heartbroken at his loss.
Visiting hours are Wednesday, March 28, 2018 from 4:00 to 7:00 pm in the PERRY-McSTAY FUNERAL HOME, 2555 Pawtucket Ave., East Providence, RI. A memorial service will be held on Thursday, March 29, 2018 at 2:00 pm at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, 60 Rhodes Place, Cranston, RI 02905. In lieu of flowers, donations in Bill’s memory can be made to RI Legal Services, Inc., 56 Pine Street, Fourth Floor, Providence, RI 02903, or Steere House, 100 Borden Street, Providence, RI 02903 (whom we thank for their exemplary care of Bill).