Clifford W. Holforty

July 16, 2014

Clifford W. Holforty (BS Civ Egr ’50), of Novi, Mich., and formerly of Rochester, Mich., passed away peacefully on June 15, 2014, with his wife by his side. He was 88. 

Holforty was born in Champaign, Ill., to Lilian (Rash) and Clifford B. Holforty, who moved to the Detroit area in 1931.

He rose to the rank of Cadet Lt. Colonel in Army JROTC at Northwestern High School in Detroit, where he was captain of the rifle team. He enlisted in the Army upon graduation in 1943, serving in the European Theater of Operation from 1944-46. He was part of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon of the 261st Infantry Regiment, 65th Infantry Division, which frequently scouted the way for Patton’s 3rd Army.  He received a Certificate of Merit and rose to the rank of Sergeant before being honorably discharged from service. 

Holforty immediately enrolled at Michigan State College, where he met his wife Pearl on his first day of class. While studying at MSC, he enrolled in Army ROTC, completing his training in 1948 and was commissioned a 2nd Lt in Army Reserves. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1950.

He held engineering positions at several prominent Detroit area engineering firms, becoming a registered Professional Engineer in 1955.  He embarked on private practice in 1959 as founder and president of Holforty Widrig O’Neill King & Associates and later founded Holforty Associates.  His body of work spans across the United States, Canada, and Saudi Arabia.

In 1986, he pursued his lifelong dream of becoming an architect, passing the architectural registration exam making him a dual registrant in architecture and professional engineering.  He worked as an architect and project manager until his retirement in 1990. Significant projects he worked on included Northland Regional Shopping Center, the first such conceptual regional shopping mall in the country; Pontiac Northern High School; Manufacturers Bank Operations Center in Detroit, Flint’s IMA Ice Sports Arena; a 28-story apartment building in Detroit known as Independence Hall; and many other projects.

He was a lifetime member of the National Society of Professional Engineers and Michigan Society of Professional Engineers, serving as vice president of MSPE.  He was vice president of Consulting Engineers Council of Michigan, and a member of American Institute of Architects, the American Concrete Institute, and the Construction Specification Institute.

During his retirement, he was the Compiling Genealogical Editor of the Halferty, Hilferty, Holferty, Holforty surnames, an English translation of the Ancient Gaelic Irish O’hAilbhearthaigh, bringing together the genealogical research on all 40 branches of the family originating from County Donegal, Ireland.  His genealogical compilation is in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City Utah, the National Library of Ireland in Dublin, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

He was also active in the community, serving on a number of Redford Township commissions, and as an active member of the YMCA for most of his life.

He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Pearl (Kramer), daughters Kathi Moxley (Ralph) and Wendy Holforty, son Michael Holforty, daughter-in-law Carol Rueppel, grand children Justin and Travis Holforty, Joshua Moxley and Lindsay Gillis, and great-grand child Tristen Holforty. 

A celebration of his life was July 12 at Fox Run Village in Novi. Memorials may be made to the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit.