Clifford Forbes

In the early morning of Wednesday, March 13, 2024, while wrapped in the loving embrace of his family, Clifford Forbes peacefully fell asleep in death. He was 83 years old. For those who knew and loved him, this was the only time that Clifford (Cliff) made them cry without soon charming a smile back onto their faces.

Born in the beautiful parish town of St. Ann, Jamaica, West Indies, Clifford was one of 16 children born to Joseph Forbes, who was known for his integrity, work-ethic, and charm—defining traits that were also embodied by his equally charismatic, funny, and unyieldingly loyal, son, Clifford Forbes.

Cliff held himself, his children, his co-workers, and his friends to high-standards. He expected things to be done right—the first time—as anyone who has ever worked for—or with—Cliff, can attest. As his long-time financial advisor said, “Cliff drives me crazy. Before I meet with him, I make sure everything is done right—and I mean everything—’cause I know that I can’t get anything past him; he will catch it. But, as stressed out as he makes me, I just love the guy. He makes me laugh and remembers everything I’ve ever told him about myself. I always feel like we’re best friends every time I work with him.” This, ‘do-it-right’ work-ethic served Cliff well during his time as a civilian diesel mechanic at the Brooklyn navy yard, where his high-quality work, charm, and charismatic personality earned him the recognition, respect and love of his co-workers and sea trial crew.

To this day, those same qualities continue to endear him to former co-workers, especially to those longtime co-workers at ABC Liquor; and, for Cliff, the feeling was mutual. To Cliff these coworkers were more than mere professional colleagues—they remained his friends. In fact, Cliff formed deep friendships wherever he worked; he did the same with neighbors, grocery store clerks, doctors, and just about anyone he met—however briefly. It was not unusual for Cliff to meet someone for the first time and declare them his friends just a few minutes later—and then continue to deepen that relationship for years to come. As a matter of fact, right now, in Cliff’s phone contact list, you will find the names of persons he met on cruises, at the store, on his job, and in other settings. What’s noteworthy about this is that these persons are listed the way he thought of them: with their different first names, but the same last name: Friend. And, not surprisingly, this last name category has the most contacts listed.

Cliff’s unique gift for forming quick and lasting friendships was only matched by his ability to learn, not only his diesel mechanic skills, but a variety of similarly complex skills, on his own. He was a self-taught man who had that rare ability to teach himself whatever practical skills he needed just when he needed them. For example, he taught himself to swim—when he almost drowned; he taught himself to cook—when he couldn’t find well-seasoned Jamaican food after moving to the USA. And, Boy-O-boy—he could cook the best Jamaican food! This self-taught education was how Cliff developed the varied skills, knowledge, and experiences that he used to accomplish the one job that he considered his most important: providing well for his family; doing this one job right was Cliff’s definition of ‘success.’ It’s why his wife describes him as a hustler and hard-worker—with a soft touch for his children.
She remembers him getting each of his children up every morning when they were babies, wrapping them in his arms, and taking them for morning walks. And, he did this decades ago, when this was unheard of for men to do.

He had a green thumb that could turn a desert into a botanical garden; he could grow anything from just a little water and a handful of soil. It was as if the plants grew just to enjoy the pleasure of his company. He never retired. He became a beloved and highly sought-after caregiver in his retirement years and during this time he also began what he considered to be the most important career of his life: he became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In this new spiritual career, he went from confiding to his daughter that he “hoped nobody answered the door” when he first started to preach from house-to- house, to enthusiastically sharing his hope and his trust in his God, Jehovah, often to the professionals who were now his caregivers. In fact, he and his wife started and ended most of his final days, reminding each other to ‘Pray to Jehovah.’

If Cliff had the chance to comfort his grieving family and friends, he would probably start with this anecdote he shared with his daughter: As a child, when his grandmother sent him to the store, she would spit on the hot concrete ground and tell him he had to be back ‘before that spit dried up.’ Cliff wanted his daughter, and by extension, his family and friends, to know that because of his unwavering trust in Jehovah to keep His promise, he was confident that he would soon wake up from his sleep in death just as quickly as it took that spit, from his grandmother’s mouth, to dry on that hot concrete pavement—and he wanted us to have that same confidence too. And when he does wake up, the first thing he’ll want to see will be the same as the last thing he saw: that he’s surrounded by his beloved children, and that they are joined by the rest of his family and friends so he could greet them all with his big toothy grin. What a happy family reunion that day will be when Cliff wakes up to begin life again in his beautiful new home by the ocean—ready and eager to reunite with all his loved ones who survived and preceded him in death!

He’ll be most eager to reunite with his surviving wife of 63 years, Joy (known to others as, Eileen); and, the first thing he’ll want to hear from her is that his children kept their promise to take care of her, as he asked them to do almost daily. Clifford will also be excited to reunite with his surviving children: Delores ‘Angie’ Edelen; Donovan Forbes; Michael Forbes; Jacqueline Bishop; and LaKisha Forbes. And, with his grandchildren: Nate, Elliot, Shaneequa, Tameeka, Medina, Qadir, Chelsey, Gabrielle, Gillian, Riley, Shelby, Shanel, Treyana, AJ, Mekhi, and Saniyah—along with his 5 great-grandchildren.

He’ll also be happy to reunite with his beloved grandmother, his parents, and his 4 siblings who have preceded him in death, along with his 6 surviving brothers and 5 surviving sisters.

And, there’s no doubt that Cliff will be especially eager to renew old friendships and start new ones. Surviving family and friends will look forward to that future reunion, as they gather to honor the life of Clifford Forbes on, Saturday, March 23, 2024 at 6 p.m., at Newcomer Funeral Home – East Orlando Chapel, 895 S. Goldenrod Rd., Orlando, FL 32822.

This service will be livestreamed, and will be able to be viewed by clicking here on the day of the service and up to 90 days after.

A viewing and visitation will be held on Friday, March 22 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the funeral home.

Daddy, we’ll miss your baseball caps, your stylish hats, and your love for Cool-Blue Gatorade; and we’ll miss your mischievous smile as you insist on drinking ONLY Dasani bottled water, or no water at all.

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