Community advocate and leader, Clifford A. Mayo, has died at 88. When you picture a civic leader in Southwest Kansas, Cliff Mayo comes to mind. A lifelong resident of Garden City, Cliff served on the Finney County Commission for 18 years after leading a family farm for decades.
Civic engagement took many forms for Cliff and his wife, Pat. They were recognized as Finney County Pioneers by the Finney County Historical Society and inducted into the YMCA Hall of Fame in 2014. Cliff was a co-founder of the Garden City Family YMCA in 1964 with two fellow community leaders and was the capital campaign chairman to raise funds to build the original facility.
Cliff was a family man raising three children with Pat—Steven (Michelle) of Garden City, Elaine Sexton (Steve) of McKinney, Texas, and Susan Cloud (David) of Garden City. The couple met at an American Royal 4-H Congress when they were 18. They began school together in 1952 at Kansas State University, but he returned to the farm in Garden City after his father fell ill in 1953. The couple was married February 14, 1954.
Cliff was a committed farmer and rancher who continued the tradition of generations before him and was joined by his son Steve and his son-in-law Steve Sexton for many years. After retiring from day-to-day farm operations, Cliff threw his energy into the county commission. He and Pat were recognized for their contributions to the field of agriculture and farm life in the 1993 Kansas class of Master Farmers and Master Farm Homemakers. Cliff served as a board member of the Garden City Co-op for 12 years, the PCA local board and the stockholder advisory committee for Farm Credit Services for many years. He was also a passionate advocate for water rights in rural counties while serving on the Kansas Water Authority for four years.
The youngest of two children, Cliff graduated from Garden City High School in 1952 after competing in hurdles and long jump as a track athlete and was a football team captain. Cliff attained the American Farmer Degree through FFA, the first in Garden City history, in 1955. He was recognized for his contributions to the local community as an inductee into the GCHS Hall of Fame in 2009.
A devout Christian, Cliff gave his life to Christ as a teenager at Methodist youth camp. He was involved in various functions as a lay leader of the First United Methodist Church in Garden City and served for many years as a leader in the Bread of Life Emmaus community beginning in 1992 and as the first men’s lay leader of a walk from Southwest Kansas. His pall bearers represent some of the many that have followed in his footsteps in that effort.
As their family grew to include eight grandchildren and eight great grandchildren, Cliff and Pat showed up. They were in the stands rooting on the kids as they showed animals at the county fair, played sports and presented speeches.
Like his parents, children and grandchildren, Cliff was involved in Finney County 4-H as a member, advocate and supporter throughout his life. He earned the Kansas 4-H Key Award in 1952—a who’s who of youth leaders.
Cliff was active in the Sunrisers Kiwanis Club from 1976-2016 serving in local, regional and national leadership roles, and participating in a variety of programs to support local youth. He was honored with the Hixon Award for his contributions. Cliff and Pat made that commitment a family affair inviting the oldest five grandchildren to join them on a unique trip to the international conference.
Cliff passed his passion for community on to his children and grandchildren to follow in his footsteps and supported their endeavors while sponsoring the formation of the Key Club at Garden City High School in 1995 and encouraging high school students to gain civic experience and responsibility.
While at times stubborn, he always liked to have a good time. He was the ultimate prankster and loved to make people laugh. His sense of humor, infectious personality and bear hugs will be missed by many.
Cliff’s life will be celebrated on Friday, November 25 at 1:30pm at the First United Methodist Church in Garden City with Rev. Joel Plisek officiating. The service may also be viewed on Facebook Live on the Garnand Funeral Home Facebook page. Burial will follow at Valley View Cemetery in Garden City. Friends may call from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday at Garnand Funeral Home in Garden City.
Memorial gifts will be directed to the Finney County 4-H Foundation, the K-State AGR House (Cliff's fraternity) and Garden Valley Retirement Home where he was so well cared for the past seven months. Condolences may be given at garnandfuneralhomes.com.