Memphis Pioneer and Business Leader, Clifford Stockton, Has Passed Away

Release date: 10/12/2015

Memphis, TN -- On the evening of October 12, 2015, Clifford Stockton, Senior Advisor to the Greater Memphis Chamber, passed away. 

Mr. Stockton left his job as a Memphis City Schools teacher to take a management position with the Greater Memphis Chamber, then The Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce, on January 20, 1969, in the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Mr. Stockton was the first African American to serve in a senior management capacity at the Chamber, and he worked tirelessly to bring white and black business and political leaders closer together during a difficult period in Memphis history.

Clifford Stockton served as Master of Ceremonies when the Chamber hosted former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

He rose through the organization to the level of Vice President of Business and Industry Services.  In 1999, Mr. Stockton formally retired from the Chamber, however, given the invaluable nature of his services, the Chamber requested and he agreed to serve as Senior Advisor to the Greater Memphis Chamber on critical issues until the time of his death.  For the past 46 years, Mr. Stockton led efforts in economic development, public policy and government affairs, working with community leaders, business and industry to direct economic development activities in the greater Memphis area.  Companies that Mr. Stockton helped to relocate or expand in Memphis include: Schlitz Brewery, Sharp Manufacturing and Sharp Expansions, Williams Sonoma, Nike and Nike Expansion, NRC of America, Reebok, Ingram Micro, Delta Airlines, American Snuff, NAACP National Convention, The Cook Convention Center, Cannon Computer, Birmingham Steel, Nucor Steel and Thomas & Betts.

Oftentimes, Stockton and his family would host out-of-town prospects at his home.
“Mr. Stockton inspired four generations of leaders and has been a calm voice of reason for our City,” said Phil Trenary, President & CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber.  “Thousands of Memphians can thank Cliff for their jobs and he has improved the quality of life for all of us.”

32nd Annual Governor’s Conference on Economic and Community Development.  Pictured:  Curtis Burns (left) manager of industrial development for MLGW,  then Governor Lamar Alexander, and Clifford Stockton.
Born and raised in Memphis, he inspired everyone he met, and had a deep, resounding voice that people often called “the voice of God.” He is a Memphis icon and one that we look to as our standard for leadership.  Although Mr. Stockton had a deep love for Memphis, his greatest love was for his family.  Mr. Stockton was 83 years old. 
For more than 175 years, the Greater Memphis Chamber has been the lead economic development organization for Memphis/Shelby County, and is a private, non-profit, membership-driven organization comprised of 2,200 business enterprises, civic organizations, educational institutions and individuals.