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REMEMBERING CLIFF

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Editor's Note: Two days after launching issue #55, we received an email concerning our news item about the passing of Cliff Pfeiffer. It came from Jeff Freedner, a painter who studied at the Museum School in the late-90's and currently teaches in Boston. His message was very moving, and it seemed appropriate to share it with those who knew Cliff.
If anyone else who knew Cliff wants to remember him in a letter or message, we will post all eulogies here. Send your messages to letters@bigredandshiny.com.

Also: Friends of Cliff Pfeiffer are holding a sort of "Quaker" style memorial/ rememberance in the Anderson Auditorium at the Museum School Wednesday, January 31 from 5pm-7pm. If you can make it, feel free to bring rememberances, visual or verbal.

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Hello,

I was pretty close to Cliff Pfeiffer and I watched him die.
I had visited him in the hospital a week before he passed away. That last visit I knew he was not going to make it.

I did not find out about his passing until a few days after his death. I was going to visit him the day I found out he died via an e-mail from another friend who went to visit him and was told he had passed away.

There are several issues in relation to his passing.

I am not sure if people want to know what happened to him, but I feel it is important as it relates to people being laid off, middle age and depression. I feel a need to relate my side of the story.

He was very sick for about three four months before he passed away. He died from complications of liver and kidney failure and depression.

It was sad and frighting to witness this once vibrant person slip away before your eyes. I have never seen someone so sick before and just felt so helpless.

I tried to convince him for months, as did other family members and friends to go see a doctor as he was starting to show some alarming symptoms that would have made most people go the doctor right away. He kept putting it off and would say it will pass I'll get better and that he could not afford to due to lack of health insurance, another consequence of being laid off.

After his unfairly (my take on this) dismissal from the Museum School, Cliff started to get depressed, which is normal when one is let go. I know as I have been through it. He had a lot of anger towards this event and in the weeks and months after he would call me several time a week to vent. I think he felt that as I had been laid off that I knew how it felt.

I think it really destroyed his self-confidence, as it was hard for him to find another job; as it is form most people who are over 40, he was 51.

Don't get me wrong, it was not the schools fault and I don't blame them. The event did however cause him to spiral downward into a deep depression.

Towards the end one could tell that the depression was starting to really affect him. I would speak to him about once a week sometimes more and we would talk for hours. It seemed to help, at least I though it did. Then I would not hear from him for weeks. Then another phone call, long discussions on what to do such as plans to revamp his web site.

He stopped eating regularly, due to the depression, and this just added to his health problems.

In the end I am sure his family and friends just felt so helpless in what to do. I am not sure what caused his illness as I was not a family member and did not have access to his doctors. I do however remember that ever time I visited him he looked worse and it became apparent that he was not going to make it. I did not need a doctor to tell me this poor soul was dying.

I still have his cell phone number listed in my phone book. His phone was still working a few days ago, I was able to hear his phone message. Which was strange, sad, and ghost like.

I will miss him, as I am sure many other friends will as well.

Cliff, good buddy, so long, rest in peace.

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Editor's Note: This message arrived late in the evening on the day we launched issue #56. It came from Fay Grajower, a friend of Cliff.

i am the friend of jeff's email - i went to faulkner with intentions of visitng cliff and was told that he had been discharged to a nursing facility in peabody 2 days earlier. at the nurse's station they attempted to verify his room number at the nursing facility.  we were informed that he had "expired."

cliff was the friendly redhead in a blue blazer who greeted me each day i passed through the doors of museum school in the mid 1980s.  he would later become my very reliable and good photographer.  until this past november,  when he repeatedly postponed our appoinments to shoot the large canvases at my studio.  i never did get those pieces photographed.  he was also set to digitize slides mid december in preparation for a catalogue.  even from his hospital bed he said on the phone he wanted to get out and do his work.  over the past year he complained some of his job loss and his personal life.  never did i understand the depths of his illness . . . . until it was too late.

and now - perhaps he is pain free.  but oh what a waste and what a tragedy.  a few days after cliff passed away i posted an image in my visual blog.

cliff - may your memory be for a blessing - rest in peace.
fay grajower


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