Alice Joy Clifford Larson, age 89, passed away quietly in her sleep on the evening of Thursday, June 2, in Gilbert, Arizona. In the last few days of her life, Alice was surrounded by her loving children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Alice was born in Thatcher, Arizona, on October 23, 1932, the only daughter of Leroy and Hazel Clifford. She always spoke fondly of her upbringing on the family cotton farm in Lone Star, a “suburb” of Safford, and loved her association with her brother Gordon and a large number of friends and relatives nearby. Nonetheless, after graduation from Safford High School, Alice left the Gila Valley to pursue her fortunes elsewhere. She attended college at Arizona State University in the 1950s, ultimately graduating with a degree in education. It was while subsequently teaching and coaching in the Mesa public schools that she met a tall and dashing bachelor, Jefferson Joseph Larson, of Lakeside, Arizona. Jeff, then in his mid-30s, and having cast a wide net in the dating pool, knew that, with Alice, he had met his match. After a lengthy, but joyful, courtship, they were married on July 23, 1958 in the Mesa, Arizona Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They made their home in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Jeff continued to teach at Scottsdale, then Arcadia, High School. In relatively short order, Jeff and Alice had five children, Mark, Kay Lynn (McDonald), Kristan (Landry), Julie (Walker) and Michael. For much of her children’s lives, Alice opted to stay at home, committed to their upbringing and welfare. Whether it was pushing the boys towards their Eagle Scout awards, helping the girls with Cotillion and other activities, or begrudgingly accompanying the family on camping trips to Lake Powell, the White Mountains or Rocky Point, Alice was all about the family. And they certainly loved and appreciated her for it. Later, when the youngest kids were in school full-time, Alice resumed her teaching career in Scottsdale, primarily at Yavapai Elementary. She focused on special education and derived huge satisfaction from helping kids most in need of what she had to offer. Alice ultimately retired from teaching to spend more time with Jeff and her ever-expanding brood of grandchildren and great grandchildren. Her loving husband of almost 54 years died in 2012, at age 90, and Alice focused even more intently on the lives of her family.
Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. on June 18, 2022, preceded by a visitation at 9:00 a.m., in the local meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 230 North Val Vista Drive, Gilbert, Arizona. Burial, after a brief graveside service for close family and friends, will take place in the Lakeside Cemetery, in Lakeside, Arizona, later that afternoon. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Bunker Family Funeral Home, 3529 East University Drive, Mesa, Arizona (for more information, or to leave comments in an online obituary, please go to www.bunkerfuneral.com).