Clifford James Binns, surrounded by his family, died quietly on June 5, 2017. Cliff was 87 years old.
Faithful husband to his loving bride, Jane, of 58 years, wonderful brother, loving father of five, special uncle to seven nieces and nephews, godfather and a super grandfather (Papa) to 10 remarkable grandchildren: Such is the proud legacy of Clifford James Binns, born October 24, 1929, and gone to God June 5, 2017.
Just “a skinny kid from Inwood, New York,” Cliff, known to his older brother as “Ace,” was a stickball-loving, Yankee-rooting youth, living just eight subway stops from “The house that Ruth built.” Sworn enemy of the Boston Red Sox, Cliff’s favorite Yankee was Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio since DiMaggio played with heart and class. Having enlisted in the Korean War and rising to the rank of staff sergeant, Cliff served four years and much later wore his Korean veteran cap with unassuming, patriotic Air Force pride. Cliff maintained relationships with many of his Air Force brothers throughout his life, which gave him much joy.
An intellectual at heart, Cliff voraciously read all genres of books (usually three at a time), The New York Times, The Florida Times-Union and several sports, golf, variety and news magazines — if he was your teammate playing Trivial Pursuit you always won. Moreover, his love and service to his community remained paramount, serving in various capacities including several homeowners’ associations both in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and Dix Hills, New York. A crucial member of the vestry at Saint Lawrence of Canterbury Episcopal Church in South Huntington, New York, Cliff enjoyed serving his church and will be remembered for providing strong council and wise leadership. Cliff was also an active member of Christ Episcopal Church in Ponte Vedra Beach during Reverend Jim Cooper’s tenure.
Aside from Cliff’s most passionate love, reading, his retired years revolved around family visits, his grandkids, domestic and European vacations, weekly trips to Ponte Vedra library and rounds of competitive golf at Oak Bridge Country Club, scoring a hole-in-one on its third hole at 80 years young. His last golf game was six weeks ago. In his later years, Cliff thoroughly enjoyed his weekly bridge games with his players and partners, as well as exercising at the YMCA.
Cliff was a first-generation American whose mother hailed from London and whose father came from the British West Indies, eventually settling in Manhattan. His parents always instilled in him a sense of caring and compassion for others.
Cliff passed away quietly after a short illness. He will be remembered for his closing remarks in greeting cards, which says so much about him: “Love and kindness, Cliff.” He will indeed be remembered as a devoted husband, father, brother, grandfather and family man, as well as a quick-witted, business-savvy, politically minded and voracious reader: the patriarch of his family. Cliff was devoted to his family, his church and to his country and served them all with distinction.
A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Tuesday, June 20, at Christ Episcopal Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Military honors to be rendered. Refreshments to follow at Christ Church Parish Hall.
Condolences can be sent to 105 Poseidon Lane, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida 32082. In lieu of flowers the family encourages donations to the Wounded Warriors Project or the Ponte Vedra Public Library.
Cliff is survived by his wife, Jane; his brother, Ted (Pamela and Robin); and his children and grandchildren: Craig; Beth Ann and her husband, Jeff (Carson, Brin, Aidan); Allison and her husband, Keith (Amy, Elly, Claire); Todd and his wife, Lisa (Riley and Tanner); and Scott (Colin and Ethan). Cliff is also survived by sisters-in-law Jill and her husband, John Schwartz (Jennifer, Jim, Beth, Kristen), Mary Ann and her husband, Paul Hayes (Joanne), and Joyce Binns.