Clifford Ray Underwood

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Clifford Ray (Cliff) Underwood of Russellville passed away on December 17, 2021 at the age of 88. He was born to Clarence and Edith Clark Underwood on July 1, 1933, in the town of Piggott, Ark., and had one sister, Elaine. Their family was part of a large clan of Underwood’s who were early settlers in the area.

An outstanding athlete, Cliff played football with the Piggott High School Mohawks, however, he suffered a severe injury in his senior year which ended a promising collegiate athletic career. He graduated from. Arkansas Tech, earning an associate degree in Civil Engineering. It was there that he met and married Elizabeth Jane Bowden of Russellville. They had two children, Larry and Mary Kaye.

As a rural letter carrier beginning in 1956, Cliff saw his work with the U. S. Postal Service as a pathway of service to his fellow man and was attuned to the lives of the residents on his daily route. He was loved and appreciated by the community for his service and long after his retirement he could still quote the address of the families to whom he carried the good and sometimes difficult news of the day. Cliff rose through the ranks to the position of Postmaster in 1976 on his 43rd birthday. That same day he became president of the Russellville Noon Rotary Club.

Cliff was elected to the position of President of the Arkansas Tech Alumni Board in 1980, and he served for 18 years on the Board of Counseling Associates, including four as President. He was cited by the Arkansas Community Foundation in 1987 for his work in mental health. He was a board member of the Russellville Chamber of Commerce and the Mt. Magazine B.S.A. Advisory Board. He was also a member of the Arkansas Chapter of Postmasters and the Arkansas Municipal League, a Master Mason and member of the Scottish Rite.

After retirement, Cliff was elected to the Russellville City Council and served for six years, chairing the planning commission during a critical period of growth for the city.

He was a natural raconteur and emcee to dozens of banquets around the state, including conventions, roasts and toasts, and retirements, always bringing charm and good humor to the event. As a talented amateur photographer, he documented the construction of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System and its several Lock and Dam sites and enjoyed discussing the challenges of the project at various clubs in the area. He especially enjoyed photographing the sunsets over Lake Dardanelle. Cliff was a long-time member of the First United Methodist Church.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Elizabeth Underwood and his second wife, Brenda Wood Underwood; his sister, Elaine Daffron, and niece, Tami Daffron.

He is survived by a son, Larry Underwood & wife, Debbie Kinslow of Sherwood, Ark.; daughter, Mary Kaye Campbell & husband, Vance Campbell of Indianapolis, Ind.; two grandchildren, Trey Conatser, of Lexington, Ky. and Lauren Underwood of Elkins, Ark.; a great-grandchild, Ruthie Rose Conatser of Lexington, Ky.; nephew, Mike Daffron of Jonesboro, Ark., and a niece, Denise Bader of Campbell, Mo., and many first cousins.

The family is planning a memorial service at 2 p.m. on Friday, January 7, 2022, in Humphrey Funeral Chapel, followed by a private burial in the new Center Valley Memorial Gardens by Humphrey Funeral Service. Cremation arrangements are made by the J. Herman Humphrey Dignity Cremation Center. Memorials may be made to the American Brain Foundation, 201 Chicago Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55415. Internet obituary and online guestbook are available at www.humphreyfuneral.com.