Garret Ackerson Gifford, age 95, died peacefully on January 29, 2023, at Mountain Vista Retirement Community in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. He was born on May 31, 1927 in New York City, the second of three sons of Charles Conyngham Gifford and Edith Ackerson. He attended Phillips Andover Academy before enlisting in the Army Air Corp in 1945, where he trained as a Morse Code specialist. Throughout his life, he would often turn to a dialect of dits and dahs, smiling at the confused look on the recipient's face as he switched from English to his “second language”. After his discharge he returned to Andover to complete his studies in preparation for college. After a stint at Oberlin College, he graduated from the University of Virginia in 1952. He moved back to New York City, and on May 8, 1954, he married Adelaide Short (Muffy). For the next two decades he worked in the advertising department for Metropolitan Life and then the New York Life Insurance Company. They lived in New Canaan, Connecticut where they raised three children. In 1973, tired of gin rummy games during 3-hour roundtrip commutes on the New Haven Railroad, and arriving home barely in time to say goodnight to his kids, he left the corporate world for the classroom. For the next twenty plus years he found his true calling, teaching 3rd grade and coaching lacrosse and hockey at the New Canaan Country School.
Summers were spent on Nantucket Island, where he was frequently on the water, fishing, or sailing. June and October were his favorite times of the year to be on Island. Town was a little less crowded, the beaches a little more solitary and close friends and family were the focus. He also proudly served as the Commodore of the Nantucket Yacht Club for two years.
After retiring from the Country School, he and Muffy spent a year volunteer-teaching at the Wilson School in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They then moved to Weaverville, North Carolina, where he played lots of golf, fished the many streams and creeks in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains and polished his skills of drawing and painting. In the early 2000s they moved to Colorado to be close to their two sons and grandchildren. He kept his love of teaching alive, substitute teaching at the school where his youngest son taught. He could often be seen along the sidelines at lacrosse, basketball and soccer games, where his sons and grandchildren were playing.
He will be remembered fondly as a teacher and a coach. He approached every activity, be it fishing, sailing, lacrosse, Egyptian history, or Art as an opportunity to learn and pass that knowledge onto others. To the end, he had an ability to find humor in most situations and a wit to bring a smile to every interaction. He amassed riches, not measured in dollars and cents, but in the hundreds of lives he impacted positively in his life. That is his legacy.
He is survived by his three children, Garret A. Gifford, Jr. (Kim); Lesley Gifford Gibson (Craig); Donald S. Gifford (Julie); his grandchildren, Virginia (Ginny) and Natalie Gibson, Charles, John (Jack) and Olivia (Hope) Gifford, Karl and Eva Gifford. He is predeceased by his wife, and his two brothers, Charles C. Gifford, Jr. and Richard A. Gifford.
A celebration of life will be planned for both he and Muffy this June on Nantucket Island.