The University of St. Thomas is mourning the loss of one of its most visible and engaging personalities.
Brian Clifton, a St. Thomas employee of 32 years, passed away on Dec. 25, 2021. He was 59 years old.
Clifton was a beloved team member in Campus Dining Services. Any student, faculty and staff member, or administrator who dined at T’s at the Anderson Student Center in the last two years likely met him at least once at the cash register. Clifton was known for striking up friendly conversations with literally anyone who came through his line.
Paying for lunch oftentimes led to fun exchanges about the weather or weekend plans, among other topics. Every brief exchange ended with Clifton wishing the customer a nice day. Clifton was also well known on the Minneapolis campus, where he worked as a cashier at Terrence Murphy Hall for a number of years.
“Brian will not only be sorely missed by all of his colleagues in Dining Services, his absence will also be felt by many across the campus community that he connected with on a daily basis,” said Pam Peterson, executive director of Dining Services. “Whether in his cashiering role at the Minneapolis dining location, or his most recent time spent in T’s, Brian was a kind soul with an ever-present welcoming demeanor who always took the time to connect with others. It may have been a simple ‘hello,’ an encouraging ‘you’ve got this’ to a student-athlete about an upcoming competition or wishing students well with their final exams. He truly cared and he took the time to engage with others and brighten their day at every opportunity.”
Clifton joined St. Thomas in 1989 in the university’s Catering Department and worked in the previous student dining hall in Murray-Herrick Campus Center for many years before his stint in Minneapolis.
He is survived by his sister, Kathleen Molland, and longtime partner, John Bigger, of Minneapolis. A memorial service will be planned for later this spring.
In honor of Clifton's memory, Father Chris Collins, St. Thomas vice president of Mission, will lead an informal prayer gathering at T's at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 6, open to all university community members. Please keep Clifton, his family and friends in your prayers.