Former Texas Governor Bill Clements Dies – My Recollection

News today the Bill Clements, the former Governor of Texas has died at the age of 94.  I have a personal memory of Mr. Clements.  My first job was working at the local Dairy Queen in Forney, Texas where the governor lived.  Mr. Clements would come in sometimes for a Hunger-Buster or a Blizzard.  Two funny things about him that I remember.  The sitting governor of Texas would come in driving an old beat-up station wagon with a license plate that was something like “Gov 1.”  I suppose you didn’t need all that protection nonsense back in those days in our small town.  My other memory is that we’d all fight over who got to wait on him because he’d always leave a tip, usually a dollar.  Considering that was about 20 minutes of work, it was good times.

Bill Clements, a blunt-spoken, former roughneck who founded an international oil-drilling firm before becoming Texas’ first Republican governor of modern times, died Sunday.

He was 94.

Clements had never held elective office before shocking the Texas political establishment in 1978 with a 17,000-vote victory over Democrat John Hill.

Not only was Clements the first Republican to win the Texas governor’s office since Reconstruction, he also was only the second Republican to win any statewide office since that era in a state then dominated by the Democratic Party.

By the time he left public office for good 12 years later, however, the GOP had begun to make significant inroads in Texas, en route to the party’s current domination of statewide politics. Clements’ two terms as governor (1979-1983 and 1987-1991) helped spark the transformation.

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