At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
1311 Mamaroneck Avenue, Suite 310
White Plains, NY 10605
Wounded Warrior Project
P.O. Box 758517
Topeka, KS 66675
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Life Story / Obituary
A vibrant and fun-loving man, Clifford Seppala’s zest for life was contagious. He was never one to worry and didn’t let the little things get the best of him while keeping a positive outlook in all things. A more devoted family man would be hard to find as his wife and children were his primary focus, however, he just may have argued that being a grandfather was the gift of a lifetime. He was a strong conservative who could be very opinionated when it came to the things he believed in, yet he was loving and accepting of everyone. Described as the rock of his family, Cliff’s strength and resolve coupled with his nurturing and gentle spirit were a blessing to his wife throughout their married life. He leaves behind a timeless legacy that will be proudly carried on by those who follow in his footsteps.
With the end of WWI in 1918, America was recognized as a world leader for the first time. The decade that followed was the Roaring Twenties when radios, washing machines, and refrigerators became part of our homes while more affordable cars allowed us to see the nation like never before. Amidst this exciting time was the year 1924 that was filled with great anticipation for Raymond and Julia (Bunton) Seppala as they were eagerly anticipating the birth of their baby as winter held the city of Detroit, Michigan, firmly in its grip. Their wait was over when the baby boy they named Clifford R. made his arrival. He was one of three children in his family, and he was raised in the family home in Detroit alongside his sister, Ernestine, and his brother, Robert, during his earliest years. His father worked in a local factory in Detroit while his mother was a homemaker.
In many ways Cliff was a young boy of his generation. He walked the rails of the Ambassador Bridge while it was being constructed. He also played a lot of baseball and attended local schools. As a teen Cliff moved with his family to Muskegon and his high school years found him at Muskegon High School.
After graduating from high school in 1944, Cliff was drafted into the Army during the days of WWII in September of that same year. He was sent to the South Pacific off the island of Okinawa, and he served as an automatic rifleman. Cliff was hit by a hand grenade and was severely injured. He recovered in a VA hospital for six months, where he received the Purple Heart.
With his military duties fulfilled, Cliff returned home in June of 1946. It was not long after he returned that Cliff experienced some excitement in his personal life when he was set up on a blind date with the woman with whom he would write a love story that would span 67 years. She was a Southern Baptist girl and a teacher in the area named Marjorie Gregg, and sparks flew right from the start. That date led to more, and it wasn't long before the couple found themselves deeply in love. With a desire to spent the rest of their lives together Cliff and Marjorie were married on December 21, 1947, in Maryville, Missouri.
The newlyweds settled in Muskegon Heights and purchased a home. Cliff went to night school at Muskegon Business College using the GI Bill, and he later went to Western Michigan University to get his teaching certificate. Cliff worked at Whirlpool and also at Continental during his early working days. With his education behind him, he spent time teaching at Lawton High School from 1954 through 1967, focusing mainly on typing and business classes. Cliff also taught driver’s education. He continued his education, too, by working on his master’s degree at the University of Colorado. Sometimes during the summer his family, which grew to include their three sons, Gregg, John, and Tim, came to stay, too. In 1967 Cliff took a job teaching accounting classes at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, which was the school’s first year. He did earn his master’s degree over a period of four or five years. Both he and Marjorie retired in 1983.
First and foremost in Cliff’s life was his family. They learned how to camp, starting out very basic at first and later getting a tent and stove. Cliff and Marjorie loved camping and hiking, particularly in national parks. They later bought a 17 and-a-half foot trailer with a bunk that they kept for 18 years. Among their travels were trips to the Upper Peninsula and Canada as well as to a few World’s Fairs. Both Cliff and Marjorie were active in all their boys’ activities and events.
Throughout his life Cliff was always on the go. He loved golfing, and during his younger years he often fished off the pier in Muskegon. Cliff and Marjorie continued to enjoy camping, and they bought a 19 foot camper that they took everywhere including to Florida to visit John, to Arlington, Virginia to visit Gregg, and then back to Lawton to be with Tim during the holiday season from Thanksgiving to Christmas for over 20 years. They also traveled abroad, too, including to Finland, Germany, and Russia. For over 50 years Cliff and Marjorie loved their home in Lawton, but they also wintered in Seminole, Florida. In 1984, he bought a farm in Lawton with his son, Tim, where they grew grapes. Cliff enjoyed gardening, farming, and tying grapes, and he made sure they were there for the harvest before they headed out for their travels.
Over the years Cliff was a man of many interests. He had a sweet tooth and was known for his Little Debbie swiss cake rolls, vanilla ice cream, cherry frosting, and pinwheel cookies, and when his boys were little they often went to McDonald’s for treats, too. Cliff liked classic country from artists like Johnny Cash and often sang “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head". He read the newspaper and watched the news, and as a conservative he liked listening to Rush Limbaugh.
Later in life Cliff took both the peaks and valleys in his life in stride. He was thrilled to become a grandfather, and he and Marjorie attended all their grandchildren’s special events. Cliff lived to care for his wife, and he made sure she got everywhere she needed to go as she spent several years in a wheelchair.
Dependable, kindhearted, and active are just a few of the words that describe Clifford Seppala. He loved to tease, and when he was around sarcasm wasn’t too far away, but he also knew how to laugh at himself, too. Content to remain in the background, Cliff was generous in ways both great and small. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
Clifford Seppala, of Lawton, died January 28, 2015, in Kalamazoo. Cliff’s family includes his wife, Marjorie Seppala; 3 children: Gregg (Naomi) Seppala, John (Colleen) Seppala, and Tim (Lynne) Seppala; 7 grandchildren: Michael, Daniel, Christie, Laura, Tiffany, Annilee and Alyse; a great-grandson, Joshua; brother, Robert Seppala; and many nieces and nephews. Cliff was preceded in death by a sister, Ernestine Plouhar, and granddaughter, Sara Seppala. Visit with Cliff’s family and friends on Sunday from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler & Thompson-Paw Paw, 60900 M-40; 657-3870 where services will be held Monday at 11:00 a.m. A luncheon will follow at the funeral home. Burial will take place later at Oakhill Cemetery, Clearmont, MO. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or to the Wounded Warrior Projects.