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Clair Joyner Telford of Fayetteville, a longtime educator here and active leader in the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, died Friday morning (Feb. 1, 2013) at Lincoln Medical Center. He was 58.
Mr. Telford was born in Bad Kreutznach, West Germany, to a family whose father was serving in the military. The family settled in Clarksville at the end of his service.
Mr. Telford graduated from Clarksville High School in 1972 and was subsequently invited to a job interview for the position of German teacher at Central High School here in Fayetteville. He joked that he had to get a map to locate Fayetteville, as he had never heard of it. Of course, he was hired on the spot.
During his tenure of 35 ½ years teaching, he was privileged to educate almost three generations of students. He was a consistently and genuinely dedicated teacher who truly enjoyed his chosen profession. He was a favorite of his students throughout his entire career. He was also privileged to have been selected as a Fulbright Scholarship winner, which enabled him to be part of a teacher exchange program with Germany. He taught English to German students during 1983-1984 in Hanau, West Germany. He also took groups of students and adults to Europe at spring break for several years.
During this time, Clair was invited to join the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Lodge #1792. He was initiated into the Order March 3, 1981. His many accomplishments with the Elks include serving as Lodge Secretary 1988-1989, Leading Knight 1989-1990 and Exalted Ruler 1990-1991, serving five years as Trustee, Vice-President Tennessee Elks Association (TEA) Elect Middle District 1991-1992, Vice-President TEA Middle District 1992-1993, Chairman of the State Government Relations Committee 1992-1994, Esquire to the District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler 1994-1995, District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler 1995-1996, TEA State President Elect 1996-1997 and TEA State President 1997-1998.
As TEA Past State President, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the TEA and a member of the Advisory Committee, TEA Chairman of the Auditing and Accounting Committee and TEA Membership Chairman 1999-2000.
Clair was awarded first place for the most membership gain nationally, awarded Elk of the Year 2000-2001, inducted into the Elks Hall of Fame April 2002 and served as a member of the Finance, Leadership Training and Public Relations Committees. In Local Lodge 1792, he held most of the offices which included Lecturing Knight, Loyal Knight, Leading Knight, Trustee, Treasurer and Esquire and Secretary from 2006 to present. Clair also served on most committees in the Local Lodge, including Elks National Foundation, Scholarship and Memorial Service.
He was a member of the Presbyterian Church.
Survivors include his wife, Terrie Crouch Telford of Fayetteville; two sons, Joyner and Wyatt Telford, both of Fayetteville; brother, Jim Telford of Salt Lake, Utah; sister-in-law, Nancy Telford; and a niece, Katherine Telford of Clarksville.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John Chamberlain and Dorothy Margaret Gannaway Telford, and a brother, John Telford.
A memorial service will be conducted Saturday, Feb. 9, at 2 p.m. at Higgins Funeral Home with Elks Lodge 1792 officiating. Visitation with the family will be Friday evening from 5 until 8 p.m. at Higgins Funeral Home. The visitation with the family on Saturday will be from 1 until 2 p.m. at the funeral home.
Higgins Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.