CHESTER - Clifford Clinton "Cliff" Leighton, 90, retired John Deere salesman and former manager of Chester Implement, died Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2003, at a Chester nursing home.

The funeral service will be 11 a.m. Saturday at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Chester. Burial will be at the Chester Cemetery.

Cliff was born on Dec. 8, 1912, at Mount Hope, Wis., to Clinton A. and Cecelia (Holman) Leighton. The family moved to Montana in 1919. Cliff received his education in Havre and graduated from Havre High School in 1931. He began working for Oscar Drake of Galata and served as a mail carrier for many years.

Cliff met Elizabeth "Beth" Markuson of Galata and they were married on Dec. 6, 1935, at Markuson homestead north of Galata. They eventually purchased a small farm adjacent to the Markuson place that they later sold. The Leightons moved to Chester in the fall of 1945 and Cliff began working for Henry Kolstad at the Chester Implement Company, where he sold John Deere farm machinery and equipment. He worked there for 35 years and retired in 1980. They continued to live in their Chester home until 1994, when they moved into the Sweetgrass Lodge. She died on April 20, 1995, and he continued to live at the lodge until he became one of the first residents of the Wheat Country Estates in 2001. He was transferred to the Liberty County Nursing Home in October.

Cliff was an active member of Our Savior's Lutheran Church and had served on the church council. He was also a longtime member of the Chester Rotary Club and a proud member of the Republican Party. In his earlier years, he held membership in the Great Falls Shriners club. In his retirement he enjoyed the Senior Citizens Center where he socialized and played cards with his buddies.

Cliff enjoyed traveling in an old bus he converted into a hunting camper and the motor home he and Beth subsequently bought. He also enjoyed cooking, playing the saxophone, working in his garden and riding his horses. In his quiet time, Cliff liked to read, especially investment and stock market publications. In his youth, he played basketball and continued to be an avid fan of his children and grandchildren.

Cliff was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Elizabeth Markuson in 1995; and sister, Hazel Brendgard.

Survivors include his children, Sharlene (Ron) Hanson of Havre, Sandra (Dean) Schumacher of Overland Park, Kan., Larry (Bonnie) Leighton of Scottsdale, Ariz., Mark Leighton of Helena, Randi (James) Holland of Gig Harbor, Wash., and Chelli (Marlow) Fossen of Joplin; 14 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren.

Memorials may be sent to Our Savior's Lutheran Church or the Hi-Line Health Foundation.

Arrangements are by Rockman Funeral Chapel, Chester.


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