Surrounded by his family, Clifford James Botto passed away peacefully August 6, 2022. He lived life to the fullest.
His history began in Calaveras County where he was born in 1928 to the son of an Italian immigrant. He and his eight brothers and sisters attended school in Vallecito then graduated from Bret Harte High School. He and his siblings were orphaned at a young age at which time he and his sister Vivian went to live with neighbors, Ruth and Vic Solari. While Cliff was working in the saw mill in White Pines, Ruth decided that Cliff should attend Mortuary College in San Francisco. Cliff always credited Ruth for making sure he made something of himself. He apprenticed with Terzich and Wilson Mortuary in Sonora and became good friends with Holly Wilson which led to their 50 plus year partnership.
Before he completed his apprenticeship, he met and married his wife Ruby Dellamaria and shortly after was drafted into the Army to serve in Korea in Search and Recovery on the front lines and Graves Registration where he helped identify the war-dead, processing sometimes hundreds per day. He was awarded a commendation for his work in Graves Registration.
After returning from the service and finishing his apprenticeship, he moved to Oakdale and eventually partnered with Holly Wilson on the Oakdale Riverbank Memorial Chapels, Gardella Mortuary in San Andreas, and Gaudlini Mortuary in Angels Camp.
For years he and Ruby owned a travel trailer and traveled with groups of friends. They also traveled the world via cruises. His interests were many. He canned all manner of fruits and veggies, some of which came from his own garden and he put up his own olives true to his Italian heritage. He always entered, and at least once won, the biggest onion contest down at Charlie’s Cow Track, although, he may have impishly poured a little melted fishing weight lead into his onion to up his chances of winning.
Whether he was hunting elk in Colorado or salmon fishing in Canada the camaraderie was the main objective.
He is missed down at Charlie’s leaving an empty chair at the card table as well as at Bachi’s H-B and at coffee with his buddies at Moss Rose Bakery.
He was the most hospitable man, often inviting people to his table whom may not have had a place to go for any particular holiday and treating the table to a song or poem in which he found great joy.
He found time to be involved in his community as a member of Oakdale Golf and Country Club, Sportsman’s Club, 8 Ball Club and as a life member of the Kiwanis and Oakdale Dinner Club. He held the honor of being Grand Marshal of Oakdale Saddle Club Rodeo Parade as well as Oakdale Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year.
He truly left a legacy of generosity and good will.
Clifford was preceded in death by his wife Ruby.
He is survived by his children Dorinda Botto, Leo Botto (June), and Michael Botto (Donna) and his grandchildren Mark Lynch, Chris Botto, Erin Botto, Erica McGhee, Kara McGaffee, Colton Botto, and Kalindi Malcom. Great grandchildren include Weston McGhee, Elise McGhee, Sadie McGaffee, Jaden McGaffee, Brooklyn Botto, Calvin Botto, and Atlas Lynch.
There will be a visitation at Oakdale Memorial Chapel on Thursday, August 11, 2022 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and a funeral service at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Oakdale on Friday August 12, 2022 at 11 a.m.
The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader
The Riverbank (Calif.) News
Aug. 10, 2022