Bill Clements

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William Perry "Bill" Clements, Jr.

42nd and 44th Governor of Texas
In office
January 20, 1987 – January 15, 1991
Preceded by Mark White
Succeeded by Ann Richards
In office
January 16, 1979 – January 18, 1983
Preceded by Dolph Briscoe
Succeeded by Mark White

United States Deputy
Secretary of Defense
In office
January 30, 1973 – January 20, 1977
President Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Preceded by Kenneth Rush
Succeeded by Charles Duncan, Jr.

Born April 13, 1917
Dallas, Texas
Died May 29, 2011 (aged 94)
Dallas, Texas
Resting place Grove Hill Memorial Park in Dallas
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) (1) Pauline Allen Gill (divorced)

(2) Rita Crocker Clements

Children From first marriage:

B. Gill Clements (1941–2010)
Nancy Clements-Seay
Dan Bass
Bonnie Bass-Smith
Barbara Bass-Moroney
Jim Bass

Residence Dallas, Texas
Alma mater Southern Methodist University (dropped out)
Occupation Petroleum driller

United States Army Corps of Engineers in World War II

Religion United Methodist

William Perry Clements, Jr., known as Bill Clements (April 13, 1917 – May 29, 2011), was an American businessman, university executive, and politician from his native Dallas, Texas. After making his fortune in petroleum through the SEDCO Company, Clements served as the first Republican governor of his state in 105 years, with two nonconsecutive terms from 1979 to 1983 and 1987 to 1991.

He was earlier the Deputy Secretary of Defense for the Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford administrations, with partial service under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, whom Clements sometimes quarreled. For thirty-nine days, he was the acting Secretary of Defense. Clements was later the chairman of the board governors at Southern Methodist University, which he had briefly attended as a student in his earlier years.

Clements won his first term as governor in 1978 over the Democratic nominee, John Luke Hill, who had unseated Governor Dolph Briscoe in the primary election. In the same general election, John Tower, the first Republican U.S. Senator to have been popularly elected from Texas, narrowly won his fourth and final term by defeating by a margin of 12,227 votes the Democrat Bob Krueger, later an interim appointed senator. Clements defeated Hill by 16,909 votes and hence outpolled Tower statewide 4,682. The results seemed to indicate little ticket splitting between the gubernatorial and senatorial contests that year.

In 1982, when Clements sought reelection, he was unseated by his political rival, Mark White, then the Texas attorney general. He was weakened by a decline that year in the petroleum industry in which he had become a multi-millionaire. The 1982 race was the last in which Democrats won all statewide offices in Texas. Ernest Angelo, a former mayor of Midland who was a Texas co-chair of Ronald W. Reagan's attempt in 1976 to wrest the Republican presidential nomination from Gerald Ford, said that Clements' defeat in 1982 was his own greatest disappointment in politics even though Angelo himself lost a bid for the Texas State Senate in that same election.[1] Clements, however, turned the tables on White in the 1986 gubernatorial general election, when he won a second term in the office. Clements was considered an establishment Republican with strong conservative appeal. He claimed to oppose abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the woman bearing the child would be threatened by carrying the pregnancy to term.

Clements' second term was marred by a football slush fund scandal at SMU, with questionable payments "phased out" but still continued for some time because pf prior commitments to the athletes. The scandal caused the NCAA to cancel football at SMU in the 1987 season, and team did not compete in 1988 as well. It was not until 2009 that SMU received a subsequent bowl invitation. The isse brough Clements at loggerheads with then SMU President L. Donald Shields.[2]

In 2010, Clements' son from his first marriage, B. Gill Clements (1941-2010), was murdered at the age of sixty-nine at his ranch in Athens in Henderson County.

The 15-story-high William P. Clements State Office Building at 300 West 15th Street in the capital city of Austin is named in his honor.


  1. Billy Hathorn, "Mayor Ernest Angelo Jr. of Midland and the 96–0 Reagan Sweep of Texas, May 1, 1976," West Texas Historical Association Yearbook, now known as West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 86 (2010), pp. 82-83.
  2. T. James Munoz (March 11, 1987). Clements apologizes for SMU role; governor fails to name others involved in football payments. The Washington Post. Retrieved on October 7, 2017.