Dr. Clifford Dillon Stiles, 88, St. John, US Virgin Islands
August 20, 1931 - December 1, 2019
Dr. Clifford Dillon Stiles passed away at the age of 88 on December 1, 2019. His spouse of 61 years, Carol McGee Stiles, was at his side at their home on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. At the time he was in hospice care for congestive heart failure and its complications. He is survived by Carol and their children, Colleen, Kevin, T.J., and Karen Stiles. Memorial Services celebrating the life of Dr. Stiles will be 2:00 PM, Saturday, December 28, 2019 at the First Presbyterian Church in Foley. There will be a time for visiting from 12:00 PM until the time of the service at the church, with a luncheon to follow at Henry's Catering in Foley. Memorials are preferred to the Foley area Foundation to fund a scholarship for a Foley High School graduate. Service with Dignity provided by the Foley Funeral Home.
A man of boundless energy, generosity, and public spirit, Cliff touched thousands of lives. He often expressed his deep faith and unshakeable optimism with the saying, "Whenever God closes a door, he opens a window."
He was born to Clara Hudson Stiles and David D. Stiles Sr. in Lake Bluff, Illinois, on August 20, 1931. He was the youngest of three brothers, including David Stiles Jr., deceased, and Lynn Stiles, of Muscatine, Iowa. He graduated from Lake Forest High School in 1949 and matriculated at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.
At Carleton, Cliff demonstrated his capacity for organization. Before his senior year, he launched a campaign that brought presidential candidate Dwight Eisenhower to the college in the fall of 1952 to give an address to America's youth—the only time Carleton's Laird Stadium has ever been filled to capacity.
After graduation, he attended Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago. On a Lake Michigan beach he met a young nurse from Loves Park, Illinois, named Carol McGee, daughter of Harold and Marion McGee. He proposed by presenting her with a list of things that they would have to do for their wedding. She accepted. They married on July 12, 1958.
They moved to Minneapolis, where Cliff joined the practice of a physician he knew from summers at Pehrson Lodge on Lake Vermillion, Minnesota. He served as team doctor to the Millers as they swept the minor league world series, but he left the practice after only a few months. He and Carol moved to Foley, Minnesota, a town of 1,000 people in the center of Benton County, some seventy miles north of Minneapolis. There he joined the practice of Dr. Norman Fiddleman, who died within a year.
Despite many obstacles facing the young doctor, Cliff and Carol decided to remain and build their lives in Foley. Colleen was born in 1959, Kevin in 1961, T.J. in 1964, and Karen in 1968. Benton County was (and still is) a rural county; for a time Cliff kept a two-way radio in his car because some of his patients' homes lacked telephones. He made house calls, delivered babies, and served as medical director for the sheriff's department and the nursing home and as the elected county coroner. He built a medical center in the town and over time shared his practice with partners John Bauman, Jerry Hansmeier, and finally his son, Dr. Kevin Stiles.
With a booming voice and a vigorous presence, Cliff devoted himself to church and community. He established scholarships and raised money tirelessly for causes he believed in. Dedicated elders of the First Presbyterian Church of Foley, he and Carol started a youth group, the Young United Presbyterians. They organized a number of ongoing fundraisers—a hot dog stand at the town's annual summer fair, Foley Fun Days, and a rummage sale, among others—then took the group on trips every two or three years, usually to Europe, where they stayed in youth hostels. Believers in the benefits of travel, Cliff and Carol worked tirelessly to introduce the young people of Benton County and their own children to the global community and America's diversity.
No list of activities, charities, and career highlights can capture Cliff's impact on the world. He never missed an opportunity to serve as a mentor, to offer advice and encouragement, to bring a stranger into his church and family, to connect to others. (Indeed, the size of his Christmas card list is legendary.) Property owners on St. John since the 1970s, Cliff and Carol built a small house in Fish Bay and began to spend half the year there after Cliff's retirement in 1999. They immersed themselves in the St. John community, which he loved so much. They were active members of the Bethany Moravian Church, where Cliff sometimes delivered guest sermons, as he did in Foley. He also belonged to the St. John Singers. He was a born storyteller, with a rich sense of humor and endless charm.
Cliff, long an avid racquetball player, began to suffer an increasing number of health problems over the last decade. He remained optimistic and public-spirited to the end, raising money for the Presbyterian Church even in the last month of his life. Over the Labor Day weekend of 2019, all of his and Carol's descendants came together in Foley for an early Thanksgiving celebration. It was his wish to make a final trip to his beloved house on St. John, which Carol's efforts made possible. His family is grateful that he passed away as he must have wished, with his wife beside him and the sound of the ocean in his ears.