Clifton (Cliff) Japhet, 97, passed away on Tuesday, August 21, 2007, at Ethan
Allen Residence in Burlington, Vermont.
Cliff was born October 20, 1909 in Cortland, NY, the son of the late Austin L and
Pearl (Hulslander) Japhet.
Cliff was an accomplished musician and played several different instruments. Music was his
main source of income for many years. He was a singer/songwriter, having written over 1,000
songs during his lifetime. He performed on live radio and appeared on television with
many notable stars of western movie fame.
In his later years he sang with the Green Mountain Barbershop Chorus of Burlington. He shared
his life-long passion for singing and music with his family and friends until the very end.
He was a founding member of several groups, including The Bronco Busters, Saddle Pards,
Rodeo Kings and The Dixie Stars. In 1940 he became a member of
Polly Jenkins and Her Plowboys of Gene Autry movie fame.
They featured novelty musical instruments, such as sleigh bells, funnels, a wheelbarrow,
and spinning coins. He toured the U.S. and played vaudeville theatres and concerts with
them for two seasons.
Cliff then joined the Western Aces who played daily radio shows and appeared
live throughout the northeast and Canada. Cliff and the Western Aces recorded
for many different record companies, using many of his own original songs. Some of
the record labels were Lamb, Down Home, Fidelity Records, Acetone, and Cattle Records, a label
based in Germany.
Cliff received a plaque in August 1983 for pioneering the Cultural Heritage of Country
Music in the State of Vermont, presented by then Governor Richard Snelling.
As part of his musical career he belonged to several organizations including the
Country Music Association, Nashville Songwriter’s Association, R.O.P.E. International
(Reunion of Professional Entertainers), and American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP).
Cliff, along with his wife and two sons, moved from Gloversville, NY to St. Albans
in the 1940’s where they quickly became involved in the community. He was scoutmaster
of BSA Troop #4 for eight years. They joined the First Baptist Church of
St. Albans and became active choir members. Cliff served as Church School Superintendent
for 11 years and was a church trustee and Deacon for many years.
In 1992 he became a Deacon Emeritus and was presented with a plaque in a special service
in which the choir sang one of his compositions, “A Chapel Without a Steeple.”
He belonged to FOE #3801 of Vergennes, the Masonic Lodge #4, St Albans since 1950,
was a Scottish Rite Mason of the Valley of Burlington, and a member of The Mt Sinai
Temple #3 of Montpelier.
Cliff worked at General Electric in Burlington for many years and retired in 1973.
Cliff was predeceased by his first wife, Harriett (Casselman), in December 1967. He was
later married to Charlotte (Kirby) Edwards in 1970, who predeceased him in
November 1987. Cliff was also predeceased by his son, Clifton (Skip), a stepson,
Wayne Edwards, and his three brothers, Lowern, Glenford and Leland.
Cliff is survived by his son, Richard (Dick) and his wife Nancy (Proulx) of Colchester,
and a daughter-in-law, Nancy (Lovely) Japhet of Essex Jct. Three stepsons
and their spouses, Herbert & Athena Edwards of Manchester, NH, Jay & Linda Edwards
of Keller, TX, and Stephen & Martha Edwards of Charlotte.
He is also survived by 16 grandchildren, Kim Zumwalt of Spokane, WA, Tracey Castro,
of Galveston, TX, Brooke Japhet of Hollywood, CA, Chris Japhet of Chicago, IL,
Sara (Japhet) Burton of Bolton, Kasey Japhet of Colchester, Theresa Japhet of
Essex Jct., Tammy Michels of Cambridge, Joe Edwards of Manchester, NH,
Betsy Ludwig of Panama City, FL, Tommy Edwards of Fort Worth, TX, Jennie Maxwell
of Alvord, TX, John Edwards of Keller, TX, Stacy Riley of Hinesburg, Becky Edwards
of Marietta, GA and Michelle Gokey of Burlington.
He is also survived by 12 great-grandchildren.
The family wishes to extend special thanks to the staff at Ethan Allen Residence
for their excellent care over the last two years.
Funeral services were held at 1:00 PM, Sunday, August 26th, at the Shelburne United
Methodist Church, 30 Church Street, in Shelburne. A reception followed at the church.
Burial will be held at the convenience of the family in the Shelburne Village Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Vermont Association for the
Blind and Visually Impaired, 37 Elmwood Avenue, Burlington, VT 05401 or
Ethan Allen Residence Donation Fund, 1200 North Avenue, Burlington, VT 05401.
Arrangements are by Stephen C. Gregory Cremation Service of Shelburne.
Cliff was one of the first artists to contact us when the site appeared on the internet.
He was more than generous with this time and recollections of his career and others
he knew and worked with. He continued to send us emails and notes over the years
until his health and old age caught up with him. Country music has lost one of
its good people and many others have lost a friend.
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