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around Central Texasthrifty, hard-working, practical people who run hardware stores, machine shops, junk storeswho know Cliff and shake their heads in admiration. “That Cliff Olofson, now he’s a good fella. That’s a smart fella.” Perhaps they would have been repulsed if they had known that Cliff was gay. But I rather doubt it. Cliff was just so…good. And competent. In his “spare time,” Cliff acted as a mentor to a series of hard-luck Chicano teenagers, teaching them reading and writing and then accounting or a manual skill, so they could get good jobs. Years later, when one of his protgs, Joe Espinoza of the million-dollar smile, was dying of AIDS, Cliff nursed him tenderly to his last day. Another one of Cliff’s kids, Juan Mendoza, came back up from Mexico to nurse Cliff at the end. He was a decent, gentle, honorable man. I would close by wishing a pox on all who would think ill of him because he was gay. But Cliff would never have done that; he would only have said, “Here, let me help.” Cliff and I talked about beer, sports, cars, dogswhat I consider “guy stuff.” He had other friends with whom he discussed his long, tireless search for spiritual improvement. I never saw a trace of religiosity in him. Where did it come from, all that love and generosity, all that goodness and giving? God only knows. And that is the answer, of course. Former Observer editor Molly Ivins is a columnist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Kaye Northcott FOR CHRISTMAS, Molly Ivins gave me a copy of an Alan Pogue photo of Cliff at his well-organized but densely packed work table, illuminated by a craftsman’s lamp, a cat perched on his shoulder. You could find Cliff at the office most any time of day or night, industriously shuffling numbers or papers, enveloped in the pulpy smells of tobacco and too much newsprint in too small a space. The definition of self-effacing, Cliff asked nothing for himself. But he was absolutely brazen in soliciting money and subscriptions for the Observer. One year he helped put together a nomination that won Ronnie Dugger a ten-thousand dollar award from Playboy’s First Amendment Foundation. In the same call that informed Dugger of the honor, Cliff talked Ronnie into donating the money to the Observer. And anyone who ever let an Observer sub scription lapse knows how Cliff’s dunning letters could tug at the conscience. While working for the Observer, I fantasized that if I had a baby, I would just bring it to the office and Cliff could take care of him/her along with our cars and pets. He, more than anyone else, at least during the KN/MI era, made the office a home for us. Leave it to Cliff to remain self-effacing, even in dying. No fuss, no bother, he died quietly in his sleep at home. Molly had offered her guest bedroom to him, because he was having trouble climbing the steps to his third-floor apartment. But Cliff died be fore he needed the care that many wanted to give him. During a lunch I had with him about a month before he died, he said matter-offactly that his situation was not so bad. He didn’t have a family or a lover to worry about leaving behind. Before he got sick he had already told the Observer editors that he intended to retire and had begun the process of training replacements. He said he had no unfulfilled wishes like a trip to Europe. Nothing he wanted to do that he hadn’t done. I hope he found his time at the Observer fulfilling. Surely he knew that he, as much as Ronnie Dugger, was the glue that held the thing together. While Ronnie was dreaming the big dream, thinking the big thoughts, Cliff was beavering away, ensuring that our shoestring operation ground out issue after issue every two weeks for thirty years. But he was as deep as Ronnie and as principled. He had a spiritual side that he didn’t talk about much, but it shined through his shyness. “His faithfulness was staggering,” said Observer friend and contributor Sam Hudson. Cliff reminded Sam of one of the Saint Teresas, the one who followed “the little way of careful dailyness.” I asked a friend who is Catholic to look up Saint Teresa in her book of saints. We decided that Sam must have been thinking of Saint Teresa of Avila, the sixteenth-century Spanish Carmelite reformer who, in small, practical ways, improved life for her sisters in the convent. Some of them had been out whoring to keep food on the table. Teresa redirected them to growing crops and raising alms for the poor. Her philosophy was that you can’t get on with doing the Lord’s work until you take care of the basics. She came up with the practical solutions that empowered others to do the flashier good works. That’s pretty much what Cliff did for the Observer. He was unique. He is irreplaceable. Kaye Northcott is a former Observer editor. She lives in Fort Worth where she is an editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Dave Denison THE SAME DAY I got the call from Bill Adler, telling me Cliff Olofson had died, I received in the mail one of those ever-constant subscription appeals, signed “C.R. Olofson, for the Observer.” It was jarring to read the letter only hours after hearing that Cliff had made his last visit to the Observer mailroom, which of course was also his office and sometime home. It gave me the feeling that death had not yet found a way to interfere with Cliff’s ceaseless labors. There was no question but that I would respond by writing a check. As a friend and loyal Observer subscriber told me later, one always felt that Cliff knew down to a person who had, or had not yet, re-upped, and now you couldn’t help feeling that he would really be able to keep tabs. Working with Cliff made me think differently about what makes a magazine survive. Conventional publishers like to think the key is in finding just the right market niche. And editors tend to believe the determinant factor is their own journalistic genius. I think what keeps a magazine going is having a group of unusually willful people at the coreor maybe just one especially willful person. Lawrence Walsh on more than one occasion told me, “If Cliff got run over by a truck tomorrow, it would be the end of the Observer.” Many of us came to suspect that this might be true, though I don’t think Cliff gave himself that kind of credit. I always thought one of the reasons he worked so hard was because he never felt he was doing a good enough job. Here is how I would refine the statement: The Observer made it through its first five years on the strength of Ronnie Dugger’s unusual talent and energy. That beginning, followed by Willie Morris’ tenure, made the Observer’s reputation. The Observer got through the sixties on its momentum and Greg Old’s careful stewardship. It survived the seventies because of the talent of Kaye Northcott and Molly Ivins. I think its natural life course would have been to go out with a blaze of glory after a grand finale conducted by Jim Hightower and Lawrence Walsh. Ronnie might not have been willing to let it die then, but if Cliff had decided to go off and get a job at the Postal Service, something he mused about every so often, I think the magazine would have folded. Cliff was the willful person who decided the Observer should continue. I don’t mean to deny that there were many factors that came together to keep the Observer going. There were always enough readers to cough up donations. The magazine needed the kind of steady support that has always come from Bernard THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21