On 11 February 2023, freeman of the city, Clifford Gordon Branchflower passed away at the age of 91 with his family surrounding him.
Cliff was born January 29, 1932 in a small cottage hospital in Simpson, Saskatchewan. He was the youngest of nine children of Norman and Mary (Hunter) Branchflower, eight of which lived to maturity.
The area at the time was in the throes of the Great Depression and in the heart of the prairie “dust bowl.” In 1935, after being unable to harvest a crop for seven years, Cliff’s parents moved the family to Wainwright, Alberta, where they lived until 1943, and Cliff attended school in Wainwright. In that year the family relocated to the Ardrossan area east of Edmonton. After completing Grade 9 in a one-room school two miles from the family farm, Cliff attended Fort Saskatchewan High School, achieving Junior Matriculation in two years.
After working for the summer of 1949 as a lifeguard/steam room attendant at Miette Hot Springs near Jasper, Cliff became an apprentice at a weekly newspaper in Edson, moving the next year to Yellowknife NWT. In 1950, he joined the Canadian Army and undertook training at Camp Borden, Ont., as an Officer Cadet. After coming to a mutual belief with Cliff that he was “unlikely to become an efficient officer,” the army released him, and he began work at a weekly paper in Streetsville Ont., a community later swallowed up by Mississauga.
After two years in Streetsville, Cliff returned to Edson, Alberta, where he met the love of his life, Ruth Smillie. The couple were married October 23, 1955, and spent several months in Kitimat. In 1956, they came to Kamloops, where Cliff spent the next 31 years in the composing room of the Kamloops Sentinel, which went out of business in 1987, and Ruth taught school for a few years before taking up a career as a music teacher out of their home.
Cliff began a career in public life when, in 1961, he became a trustee on the board of what was then School District 24. After 15 non-consecutive years as a trustee, five as board chairman, in 1980, he was elected to Kamloops City Council as an Alderman, serving eleven years in that capacity. In 1991, he was elected Mayor in a by-election following the death of Mayor Kenna Cartwright. He was re-elected Mayor in 1993 and 1996. After retiring from City Hall, Cliff and Ruth served an 18-month mission in Thailand for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after which the couple became full-time grandparents to their nine grandchildren.
After Ruth’s death in 2021, Cliff spent his time visiting with his family and caring for his pet cat, Lucky.
Cliff will be remembered by his family as a man of integrity that was dedicated to serving his fellow men and women both publicly and privately. Never one to seek the limelight, he rendered assistance to those in need without wanting any credit for his good deeds. He was crystal clear in his devotion to the love of his life, Ruth, and since her passing has been eagerly awaiting their reunion in heaven. We take comfort in knowing that they are together again, and knowing that we will see them again as well.
Cliff is survived by his daughter Alison (Rick) Steffler and their two sons, Ty and Cole of Kamloops, by his son Wally (Shaunna) of Kamloops, their daughter Melissa of Lethbridge; daughter Kelsey (Brock) Olsen of Kamloops; son Ben (Brooke) of Saratoga Springs, Utah; daughter Riley of Lethbridge; daughter Denae (Tyler) Platts of Rexburg, Idaho; daughter Kara (Preston) Nicholas of Provo, Utah and daughter Hayley of Rexburg, Idaho. He is also survived by great-grandchildren Olivia and David Branchflower of Saratoga Springs, Utah, and Isaac and Makenna Olsen of Kamloops. He is also survived by an older sister Cora, who will turn 101 in a few weeks.
Service will be held Saturday February 18, 11:00 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 2165 Parkcrest Avenue.
Messages for the family can be left at the Kamloops Funeral Home website https://kamloopsfuneralhome.com/online-tributes/