‘Once in a Blue Moon’ just happened. Because this ‘blue moon’ happens every few years only (as it did a few weeks ago), when things in our lives happen that seem to come out of nowhere, were unexpected, or seem very random, and it seems like it will not happen again for a very long time, we refer to these events, as ‘once in a blue moon.’ These can be very good things or very difficult things.
High energy has been going full throttle. Things are moving fast. Lots of ways to go/be/do/think/react. I knew we would be faced with challenges at this particular time, and we certainly have been here in Santa Cruz.
Yes, these past few weeks have been brim full of challenges. Taking on a challenge, at least for me, is to jump in with both feet. Fully commit to finding the answer, moving in a different direction, adapting to what is in front of me. This is a principle I teach to my martial arts students. The ability to adapt is critical for their safety. I apply it in my own life too. A few weeks ago I was presented with a challenge that I have never taken on, ever (among everything else what was going on).
I was asked two days before an event to ‘officiate/present/lead’ this event. It was not a huge event. It was an emotional event.
I was honored to take this on. The event happened to be a memorial service for one of my long-ago martial arts students. His name is Randy “Randawg” Clifford. He left us at a young 62.
During the time he studied at my martial arts studio, I got to know him and his family. His joy for life, his joking, his laughter, his smile every time he walked in, were infectious. And I had to laugh with the perfectionism, as our birthdays are in September, and one day apart. I know this one very well (perfectionism, also referred to often as ‘anal retentive’).
He was meticulous in his martial arts movement, his appearance, every job he did with his roofing company (Clifford Roofing & Construction), teaching his sons how to properly wash a vehicle, keeping both his white cadillac and white Harley in meticulous condition, and the perfection of his signature BBQ sauce (Uncle Randawg’s BBQ Sauce, available locally in specialty shops).
These qualities certainly set him apart. His wife of 20 years, Veronica Clifford, his family, friends, and the Santa Cruz community will certainly miss Randy “Randawg” Clifford.
The following was presented at his memorial service.
Randall Leonard Clifford~
We are here today to celebrate the life and spirit of Randy “Randawg” Clifford, loving husband, father, grandfather and friend.
Born in Gardena, CA, Sept 21, 1952, to Patricia and Don Clifford, he passed away July 6, 2015.
He spent his early years in Southern California, working with his Uncle H.T., as a young roofer at age 14. He then attended Riverside High School, and from there was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he spent two years during the Viet Nam war. He continued in the Army Reserves for another four years.
After he was discharged from the Army, he returned to Riverside and opened his own business, Clifford Roofing & Construction. He taught his sons Lance Clifford and Ryan Clifford the trade, as well as Lorenzo Rios. To this day, Lorenzo Rios is still at it, roofing local homes in the Santa Cruz community.
Randy met his wife of 20 years, Veronica Clifford, on a blind date. Both had been reluctant to commit to this blind date, and the fourth attempt by their friends would change the rest of their lives. It was truly love at first site. That night he took her to Castagnola’s on the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. There he got down on one knee, sang Elvis Presley songs to her, some blues too, and, of course, embarrassed her to no end. She loved it. And she knew she had found the true love of her life.
While at their attorney’s office taking care of some legal papers, he got down on one knee, and began to propose. The attorney excused himself, however, Veronica insisted he stay, as he was already witness to this event. Randy continued, on one knee, with his proposal, sang another Elvis Presley song, then stood up, arms uplifted and simply stated, “Ta Da!” and kissed her. She said yes. This was simply Randy’s style.
They were married on Randy’s birthday, September 21, at their beautiful home in Santa Cruz. Together, they brought five children into their marriage; Randy’s two sons, Lance and Ryan, and Veronica’s three children, Katrina, Vanessa, and Patrick. Over time they would have nine grandchildren that brought so much joy to them both.
Randy was an “adventurer.” He loved to scuba dive. He and Veronica were blessed to have visited the Bahamas, Cancun, and Cozumel; to dive in Cortez and explore shipwrecks. They went diving with sharks without the cages! (The ‘crazy adventurer’ in them both.)
He also loved motor cycle riding, and when mounted on their Harley, they looked like celebrities. He took pride in his appearance, and it did not matter if he was working, or going out to a function…he was always classy! His bike was just as classy. He kept it meticulously clean.
They also found joy in the simple things; picnics they shared in a cove near their home, bbq’s in their backyard, and simple family gatherings. They included their grandchildren when ever they could, and the picnics and grilling created incredible time for them all.
Randy was very successful with his roofing company, until he had an accident while on the job, which would change everything. The business began to suffer, as Randy had to go through many surgeries to repair his broken bones. The weeks turned into months. They had to think of something to do to remedy the situation while he healed.
Veronica and Randy were a team. Together they collaborated on a new venture: they created and marketed “Uncle Randawg’s BBQ Sauce.” Randy had a love of cooking, and he was influenced greatly by his grandmother. Early in life he began making his own BBQ sauce. He would make dishes for family and friends and they always urged him to sell it. This did not happen until he and Veronica put their heads together and decided that they would give the BBQ sauce a go. Veronica had the skills and expertise to get the product to market, including researching companies who could bottle and ship it.
They went to many events promoting the product that Randy had created. At the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim CA, they entered the BBQ sauce, and they won the 1st place trophy and 3rd place ribbon, in two different categories. In the process, they met many celebrities, including Tiger Woods’ father, as he purchased their BBQ sauce too.
When they showed at the Carlton-Ritz in Half Moon Bay, they met Jerry Rice, had a photo-op with him, and met many of the 49er cheerleaders. Everyone seemed to love their BBQ sauce.
Randy also loved to hunt and fish. In his teen years, every year he would make trips with his Uncle H.T. and his cousin Greg Perry, to either Utah or Alaska. He always took his beloved dogs, Max and Peetie, and more recently, his dog Sugar.
He loved Uncle H.T. and Aunt Marge, from whom he learned many of the values for his life. Uncle H.T. was a perfectionist in is trade and taught many in the family, including Randy, the right way to roof. The ‘trainees’ would need to stay on the ground (sometimes right in the driveway), pounding nails in boards for many hours before being allowed to get on a roof. They had to pass Uncle H.T.’s standards—then they would be ready to ‘load’ the roofs, carrying bundles of shingles up the ladders to the roof—it is the way it was done in that period of time.
Randy was a very thoughtful man and would do the little things for people that made them know they were special. Walks with Veronica along the pier, meeting up with their friends, sending gifts to Uncle H.T. and cousin Greg (and Greg’s two kids, Shelly and Tootie), and showing up in Utah “just because.” He continued his friendship with his long-time friend, Leon. With Randy it was ‘friends forever.’
Many of us here today have felt the love, generosity and compassion that Randy shared with us. He was loved by many and will be greatly missed. RIP “Randawg.”
It was truly an honor to take on this challenge for this martial arts student, Randy “Randawg” Clifford. Rest in Eternal Peace Randy.
Clara E Minor is a Martial Arts Master Trainer and and Fitness Instructor in Santa Cruz, CA. She recently celebrated her 30-year anniversary with a martial arts business in Santa Cruz. You can contact her through her website at www.minorsan.com