Cliff English

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 5:07 pm

An amazing man left us on Father’s Day, June 21, 2015. Cliff English passed away at Hock Family Pavilion Hospice, Durham. N.C., after a very brief encounter with cancer.
Although he was born in Silver Creek, N.Y. July 25, 1937, to John W. and Ruth (Joshua) English, he always claimed Detroit as his hometown.
 Many of his formative years included adventures that probably led him to the field of sociology. Graduating from Inkster High School in 1955, being the free spirit he was, he attempted college and a few occupations, before becoming an insurance claims adjuster.
He met and married his college sweetheart, Martha Mendenhall, in 1959. To this union four children were born. In addition to their own, Martha and Cliff opened their home to foster children. The couple traveled to Illinois and back to Michigan during his career with insurance.
During his stint with the insurance company, he was required to obtain a degree. Night classes included a course in sociology, which became his passion in life. Cliff went on to earn a BA and MA in sociology from Eastern Michigan, teaching classes at the University and also in a prison, while accomplishing this. He went on to be awarded a PhD from THE University of Michigan (not to be confused with Michigan State) in 1970.
In 1971, he began his career at Luther College. Cliff, Martha and the children spent many summers traveling, with Cliff regaling the children with memories of his own childhood. They later divorced. The children spent summers with Cliff. During these formative years, he instilled in them their love of camping, storytelling and education.
During his time at Luther, he met and married Rose Jensen. They later divorced.
Candid, audacious, cantankerous, provocative and opinionated are terms that have been applied by students who encountered Cliff in  sociology classes and the colleagues with whom he spent his 30-plus years at Luther.
Never content to be just a teacher, his research in areas of deviance, medical sociology and mental health led him to be awarded the National Institute of Mental Health Fellowship, taking him to Duke University Medical Center Department of Psychiatry in Durham, N.C. for two years from 1979 to 1981.
He spent a year as a clinical sociologist in the Cedar Rapids Family Practice (1987-88). But, Luther and Decorah were always his home.  He was an original member of the Oneota Co-op and founded Trouble Line, a crises center for troubled youth.
In 1989, he met a river rat named Sue (Brown) Livingston, and her daughter. He adapted to the Mississippi and her hometown of Lansing in an instant. They married in 1994, and spent many years camping, fishing, traveling and spending time with children and grandchildren.
Cliff also was an avid sports fan. Rousing off-key renditions of the Michigan fight song tortured many local Iowa fans.
Cliff is survived by his wife, Sue; children: Lesley Cameron (friend Joe Wright) Decorah; Tristan (Deborah) English, Casper, Wyo.; Jane English (Jeremiah Minion) Durham, N.C.; children by marriage (he never used “step”): Brittany O’Malley (Adam Hook) Durham, N.C., Glenn Livingston (Heather Mather Livingston) Edgewood; Leah McCrea (Jeff) Decorah; and Jim Livingston (Deb) Norfolk, Neb.; 12 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.  
Preceding Cliff in death were his parents; in-laws Sadie and Leland Brown; and daughter, Tanya English, in 2002.
A memorial service is planned for Sunday, Aug. 2, at 2:30 p.m. in Peace Dining Room on the Luther College Campus. A family mass at Grace Episcopal Church will precede this.
Family requests no flowers. Memorials may be directed to Luther College Dept. of Sociology, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Hock Family Pavilion Hospice, or Friends of Pool No. 9 (Lansing). 

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