Clarence D. Wiley

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Clarence Douglas Wiley

Clerk of Court for Webster Parish, Louisiana
In office
July 1, 1956 – March 1, 1976 (death)
Preceded by Thomas J. "Tom" Campbell
Succeeded by Henry Sexton Matthews

Born July 22, 1909
Minden, Louisiana
Died March 1, 1976 (aged 66)
Minden, Louisiana
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) (1) Lillie Frances Waller (later Frances James) (divorced)

(2) Sarah (Shara) Frances "Bumper" Brown Wiley (married 1944-1976, his death)

Children Two daughters from first marriage:

Nina W. Austin
Joan W. Luck
Three children from second marriage:
William Benjamin Wiley, III
Carol Suzanne Wiley Reeder
Amy Claire Wiley Jason

Religion United Methodist

Clarence Douglas Wiley (July 22, 1909 – March 1, 1976) was a 40-year municipal and parish government official during the mid-20th century in Minden in Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana. At the time of his death, Wiley was vacating the office of clerk of court after two decades and awaiting his swearing in just four months later as the Webster Parish police juror elected to succeed the retiring Leland Mims. Wiley's career as an integral part of the "courthouse crowd" shows the value of persistence and longevity through changing times in the public arena.


Wiley was one of four children born to William Benjamin Wiley, I (1875-1938), a native of Haynesville in northern Claiborne Parish and a jeweler who died in a fire in his Minden store at the age of sixty-two.[1] and the former Nina Vance Sugg (1886-1973). Wiley graduated at the age of sixteen in 1926 from Minden High School. He began work in the Minden light and water office. In 1936, he moved over to the municipal clerk's office. In 1940, he began an eight-year stint with the parish tax assessor, with time away for United States Army combat infantry service in Italy, Austria, and Sicily during World War II under General Mark Clark of the 88th Blue Devils Infantry. Wiley obtained the rank of corporal.[2]

Political life

In 1948, Wiley, a Democrat, lost a race for the Louisiana State Senate to incumbent Drayton Boucher of Springhill in northern Webster Parish. Wiley came within fifty-one votes of unseating Boucher, 3,950 (50.3 percent) to 3,899 (49.7 percent).[3] In 1946, he went to work for Sheriff O. H. Haynes, Sr., and was retained from 1952 to 1956 by Haynes' intra-party rival and successor, J. D. Batton (1913-1981). In 1956, he was elected clerk of court, a position which involves the processing and storage of public records, such as vital statistics and property transfers. Wiley promised to modernize the office, which thereafter during his first term was relocated to the ground floor of the Webster Parish Courthouse on Main Street in Minden.[2] In time, the office became so cramped from the overflow of records that annex space was needed.

In his first election for clerk of court, Wiley narrowly ousted the 24-year incumbent, Thomas J. "Tom" Campbell (1895-1968). He also edged out a future three-term member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, Parey Branton, of Shongaloo in central Webster Parish, and a later mayor of Minden, Frank T. Norman. In the primary, Campbell led Wiley, 3,976 (42.8 percent) to 2,419 (26 percent), with Branton at 2,327 (25 percent) and Norman at 573 (6.1 percent). Wiley hence topped Branton by ninety-two votes for the runoff berth with Campbell.[4] In the second primary in February 1956, Wiley topped Campbell by 94 votes: 4,136 (50.6 percent) to 4,042 (49.4 percent).[5] In later elections, Wiley retained his clerk's position with ease by defeating within the Democratic primary Clifton E. Harper (1902-1982), a Mississippi native who published the former weekly newspaper, The Minden Press, from 1949 to 1956.[6]

Personal life

Wiley was a member of the Louisiana Clerks of Court Association, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Knights of Pythias, and the First United Methodist Church of Minden. He was divorced from the former Frances Waller, thereafter Frances James (1908-1999), and the couple had two daughters, Nina W. Austin and Joan W. Luck (1934-2021), previously known as Joan Clement and Joan Batton). He was survived by his second wife, the former Sarah (later changed to Shara) Frances "Bumper" Brown (1923-1999),[2] who worked from 1940 to 1976 in the parish assessor's office.[7] In his second marriage, Wiley had three children, William Benjamin "Bill" Wiley, III (born December 26, 1948), Carol Suzanne Wiley Reeder (born 1956), and Amy Claire Wiley Jason (born 1958). William Wiley, III, a graduate of Minden High School, Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and San Francisco State University, has been since 2001 the executive director of the Federal Employment Law Training Group. From 1993 to 2001, Wiley, III, was chief counsel to the chairman of the Merit Systems Protection Board, in which capacity he reviewed each year as many as two thousand appeal cases for the San Francisco Bay Area.[8]

At the time of his death of a heart attack, there were seven Wiley grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Three ministers officiated at Wiley's funeral: Ronald D. Prince of the First Baptist Church, T. W. Barnes of the First United Pentecostal Church, and the Reverend Tracy Raymond Arnold (1931-1988), then of the First United Methodist Church. Pallbearers included then U.S. Representative Joe Waggonner of Louisiana's 4th congressional district, city Judge Cecil P. Campbell (1909-1996), and state District Judge James Edwin Bolin, Sr. (1914-2002) of Minden.[9]

Clarence and Shara Wiley are interred at Minden Cemetery.[2][7]


  1. William Benjamin Wiley. Retrieved on April 5, 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Clarence Douglas Wiley. Retrieved on April 5, 2018.
  3. Minden Herald, January 23, 1948, p. 1.
  4. Minden Herald, January 19, 1956, p. 1.
  5. Minden Herald, February 23, 1956, p. 1.
  6. Clifton E. Harper. Retrieved on April 5, 2018.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Sarah Frances "Bumper" Brown Wiley. Retrieved on April 5, 2018.
  8. William Wiley - Executive Director - Federal Employment Law Training Group. Retrieved on April 5, 2018.
  9. The Minden Press-Herald, March 17, 1976.