Tom Clifford doing well after small stroke


The wife of former UND President Tom Clifford said he's doing well and is in rehabilitation after suffering "a small stroke" at his Grand Forks home.

"He's OK," said Gayle Clifford. "We just want him to be in everybody's prayers." She said a medical emergency last Monday morning sent her husband to the hospital. She praised first responders and local medical specialists for their speed and professionalism. She said Tom was on his feet later the same day.

"I tell you we have the best medical system here in Grand Forks," Gayle said. "We're so lucky to live in North Dakota, because our medical care is so good here." Much of that medical care is provided by homegrown doctors and specialists who trained at UND's School of Medicine and Health Sciences, an institution that Clifford helped grow and improve during his 21 years as UND president, Gayle said. Doctors say that Clifford may be able to return home in about 10 days.

"A stroke is something that you can recover from, and it's important for others to know that," Gayle said.

UND's eighth president, Clifford is the only school leader to have been born and raised in North Dakota. In November 2002, at 81 years old, Clifford became the 32nd recipient of North Dakota's most prestigious honor of achievement the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award.

Over a span of 50 years, Clifford graduated from UND, served as a school professor, was dean of the business college and vice president of finance. He was named president in 1971. His tenure as leader is tied for the longest with John West.

Clifford also served with distinction in World War II as a tank commander in the South Pacific. He ascended to the rank of captain and led an attack that secured a vital airstrip a launching pad for bombing Tokyo. That feat won him a Silver Star for Bravery.