Jack Clifford was born on Sept. 13, 1933, in Gary, Indiana. His mother was a homemaker and his father a railroad detective. Frequently bored in school, he was voted “The Least Likely to Succeed” by his high school classmates in Grand Rapids, Mich. (In 2015, their prediction became the title of his memoir.)
While attending Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo, Jack helped build the school radio station, which got him interested in broadcasting. He worked for a local radio station as an overnight disc-jockey, where his show was called “Cruising with Clifford.”
In 1957, he went on vacation to Phoenix, Arizona to visit his parents and his sister and stayed, taking a job as the first sports anchor at KTVK-TV, Channel 3. In 1962 he began working at KTAR-TV, Channel 12, also in Phoenix, in the sales department and eventually became the station’s president and general manager. In 1974, he became president of a station in Atlanta, then two years moved to Sacramento to work. In 1977, he was hired by the Providence Journal Co. to help build its broadcast and cable holdings, which eventually put him in a position to help start the Food Network.
Clifford then worked in several media markets until he moved to Rhode Island with the Providence Journal Company, as executive vice president. He worked to develop the company’s electronic media business into one of the nation’s largest broadcast & cable television, programming companies. He later founded and was chairman of both the Food Network (1993) and Northwest Cable News.
Jack retired in 1997, moving back to Arizona, with his first wife, Marguerite, where they pursued a variety of passions, including competitive ballroom dancing and thoroughbred racing. In 2006, they bought a second home on Coronado Island, California. Marguerite passed away in October 2007 after 49 years together. He and his second wife, Beverly were married in 2010 and bought a home in Chula Vista better adapted to his decreased mobility from Parkinson’s Disease.
His many philanthropic endeavors included involvement with Arizona Opera, Challenger Space Center, ASU Cronkite Foundation & Endowment, Arizona Kidney Foundation, House of Broadcasting Museum and a host of other community activities.
Jack was a member of both the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter’s Silver Circle & Gold Circle Societies and a member of the Arizona Broadcasters Association’s Hall of Fame. Jack passed away on July 28, 2019 at his home in Chula Vista, California.