OBITUARY

Lionel Jude Clifton

July 16, 2016April 22, 2021
Play Tribute Movie

Our beloved son, grandson, nephew and friend Lionel Jude Clifton, 4, of Houston, Texas, passed away on April 22, 2021 at Texas Children’s Hospital. We take comfort in knowing he is giggling in his Father's arms, and that his many, many questions are finally being answered. He was born on July 16, 2016, the son of Will Clifton and Joanna Nathan.

Lionel didn't believe in either/or. As he often said, "both is always a good choice." True to this tenet, his favorite color was rainbow. The joy he brought to living through his infectious laugh, constant smile, and keen sense of humor was passed on to all who encountered him. Each day was an adventure, whether building a spaceship from a cardboard box, assembling a Lego robot, playing with his beloved doggies, or singing and dancing to hip hop and funk.

Lionel cherished the outdoors - hikes in the woods, camping trips with family and friends, bike rides, and hours of playing soccer. Lionel saw this world for the fantastic creation that it is and appreciated every aspect of it. The beauty of the night skies, in particular, captured his attention: he could recite fact after fact about rockets, satellites, and Pluto. He loved to stargaze and dreamed of space travel.

Lionel was a versatile, curious explorer. He thought he was great at knock knock jokes (he was not). He loved spotting the Houston skyline, a Southwest plane in the sky, or pointing out his favorite HEB. Lionel loved competing but was also the most encouraging sportsman. He loved the order and logic of arithmetic - as a kid with so many questions, math was one of the first ways he was able to discover answers on his own. Lionel’s inquisitive spirit and eagerness to learn helped him to become wise beyond his years. His biggest fear was missing out on anything his family might do after he went to bed - and so he would put his excellent negotiation skills to use to avoid bedtime every night. He was quick to help, share, and try anything new. Empathetic, sweet, and kind, Lionel had the gift of connecting with people of all ages and making them feel part of what really mattered, always providing a comforting word or hug, his generous heart open to all.

Lionel recently asked us how big his family is, and through the outpouring of love we've seen from all over the world over the last week, it's clear the answer is that Lionel's family is hundreds strong. He is survived by his parents, Will Clifton and Joanna Nathan; grandparents Laura “Lala” and Bill “Choo Choo” Clifton, Senthil “Thatha” and Jessie “Achi” Nathan; great grandfather N.J. "Big Thatha" Paul; uncles Jonathan Nathan and Chris Clifton; his caregiver Nansy “Titi” Umaña; his friends Jordan Pacelli Everett and Matthew Kuhn; and furry friends Yogi, Shasha, and Tycho. The Morgans and the Robinsons will join Chris and Jonathan as pallbearers. We will miss his all-encompassing hugs.

Lionel’s private graveside service will be livestreamed at 10:00 am on Saturday, May 1, 2021. A public Memorial Picnic to honor Lionel will be held at 4pm at the Water Works in Buffalo Bayou Park.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Life Gift, BARC, or Buffalo Bayou Partnership.

Services

  • Graveside Service

    Saturday, May 1, 2021

    VIEW VIDEO

  • Memorial Picnic

    Saturday, May 1, 2021

Memories

Lionel Jude Clifton

have a memory or condolence to add?

ADD A MEMORY
Cindy McCarty

May 10, 2021

My deepest condolences and sympathy to Lionels family. Although I did not have the privilege of meeting him personally, the joy that he brought to Laura when she spoke of him and shared his photos was radiant.

Praying for your peace and comfort.

Cindy McCarty

Rachel Ternan

May 2, 2021

I didn't get to meet Lionel, but I loved seeing him grow up in the pictures you shared. So sorry for your loss. Sending love and praying for you all now and in the days to come. Much love, Rachel

deborah quebe

May 2, 2021

We have been so blessed to have experienced Lionel’s fun and adventurous personality. During his visits to see Lala and Choo Choo he would constantly amaze us with his building and math skills. He was definitely wise beyond his years.
We enjoyed hearing Lala’s funny stories after a visit to the ranch. Such fun adventures!
We are all blessed with such wonderful memories of Lionel, a special little man. Never to be forgotten!
Sending love, hugs and prayers to everyone.
Debbie, Karl and Kaitlin Quebe

Tawana Robinson

May 1, 2021

My favorite memory about Lionel was our dance parties! He loves to dance with such joy. He has such a kind, gentle, and joyful spirit that allowed for anyone to be his friend. May you continue to have eternal peace in the arms of our Heavenly Father. Save me that dance in heaven :)

Patti Young

May 1, 2021

Laura and family,

Lionel’s service was such a lovely tribute to a precious soul.
May his memories lighten your heaviness at this time.

Very sincerely,
Patti Blackburn Young

Kedar Karkare

May 1, 2021

I will always remember Lionel as a joyful adventurer. As a Texan and the son of two innovators/entrepreneurs, I would have expected nothing less :)

My memories of Lionel are mostly from our Enventure retreats at the ranch. I remember that while we were all working/brainstorming Lionel was frequently exploring the surrounding area and playing with the dogs. He was always the first one into the front seat when it was time to go for a drive through the woods. His bravery around the massive spiders was much greater than mine. That much was for sure.

I also distinctly how excited he was to have a piano in his room. He took me by the hand and showed me how great it was and then asked me to play it because he didn’t yet know how.

Lionel brought joy into my life every time I was around him, and for this I am forever grateful to have known him.

Jace Heuring

May 1, 2021

I only got to spend time with Lionel a handful of times, but they all standout in my mind. Such infectious joy and curiosity! I always looked forward to seeing him again (and still do). My deepest condolences on the loss of your sweet boy.

Charles Elliott

May 1, 2021

Lionel and his parents lived next door to me on Riverside Drive. I remember Lionel to be an inquisitive, happy, very friendly little man who enjoyed being around people and his pets. I know that Lionel would have been an outstanding and promising, happy, young man. I was already looking forward to Lionel graduating from Rice University, like his mother and I. Lionel is now, a little star! Lionel, you will be missed so very much!

Amanda Shih

April 30, 2021

I am forever grateful for the time and memories I have with such a beautiful soul as Lionel. Being the son of Joanna and Will, he had all their warmth, exuberance, tenacity, and light.

A memory I have to share is a simple one; you and I running back and forth across the lawn at the bungalows. That evening, we were racecars. Though we did not travel beyond that small space, we were in our own world of grand adventure.

You never let play time end easy. That is how I feel right now, hanging on.

Friend, I will think of you often, remember our adventures, and draw upon your spirit in the future. Until I see you again, I'll see you in those who love you and in the world around me. Thank you.

Swati Patel

April 30, 2021

I didn't know Lionel well but I can say, the words written above are so true and beautifully said about him. The lil man's smile could make anyone smile, it was infectious and made my heart feel light. Seeing him waddle around, fall, get back up and continue waddling was such a precious sight. I looked forward to seeing him run around so freely and enjoy the wonders of the world every Thursday. I can't say anything to make sense of this heart-breaking event but I just want to let you know that he brought joy into my life every time I interacted with him and that I am so happy I got the chance to meet him and see him grow while we were in school. My most sincere and deepest condolences to you and everyone in his life.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY