William Perry Clements Jr.

Clements, Jr., William Perry William Perry Clements, Jr. was born April 13, 1917, in Dallas, Texas, to Evelyn Cammack Clements and William Perry Clements and died May 29, 2011, at the age of 94. From his early years and throughout his life Bill demonstrated leadership ability, intelligence, resilience, and energy. Becoming an Eagle Scout began his lifelong support of scouting. Being elected Class President and Most Popular Boy in high school pre-shadowed his future success in politics. Going to work in the South Texas oilfields straight out of high school demonstrated his willingness to help his family through difficult financial times and developed his penchant for hard work. Those experiences as a young man influenced Bill throughout his life and enabled him to tackle difficult tasks with confidence and optimism. Bill left the oilfields for two brief periods to attend classes at SMU and UT Austin where he met and married his first wife, Pauline Gill. He began a career with Oil Well Supply Company and during World War II converted facilities and equipment for use in the war effort. In 1941, a son, Gill, was born, and the following year a daughter, Nancy. With two rusty drilling rigs bought on credit, Bill founded Southeastern Drilling Company, which he relocated to Dallas from Mississippi in the early 50's at which time he hired its core leadership team that became the "SEDCO family." The company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange and became the worldwide leader in the offshore drilling industry, pioneering the use of semi-submersible rigs. As SEDCO grew, so did Bill's involvement with the Boys Scouts of America, resulting in the Clements Scout Reservation and a college scholarship program for Eagle Scouts. He also supported SMU projects including Clements Hall, Fort Burgwin Research Center near Taos, and the Clements Center for Southwest Studies. In the 1960's, Bill led the restoration of the Cumberland Hill School Building, developed an extensive library of Texana books, went on numerous hunting and fishing trips with his son Gill, and increased his involvement with public service. Bill Clements' life changed focus in 1972 when he accepted an appointment to serve as Deputy Secretary of Defense and became responsible for the daily management of the Defense Department and its 3.4 million employees. He served under three Secretaries of Defense and two U.S. Presidents. During these years of service in Washington his first marriage ended and Bill and Rita Crocker Bass began their 36 years of marriage. Back in Dallas, with his son running SEDCO, Bill and Rita turned to politics, and Bill entered and won the race for Governor of Texas becoming the first Republican Governor in over 100 years. He was re-elected to a second term in 1986 after losing in November of 1982. As Governor, Bill was known for the quality of people he appointed, for the priority he put on relations with Mexico, for the Texas War on Drugs, for his and Rita's renovation of the Governor's Mansion and of the State Capitol, and for job creation and economic development for the State. Bill's retirement years were characterized by summers with Rita and friends at Taos, and his continuing support for numerous Dallas institutions, especially UT Southwestern Medical Center and S.M.U. He considered himself an entrepreneur and a people person, and his wise counsel, encouragement, generosity, and lively personality will be remembered by many. Bill's love for the State of Texas ran deep and he was proud to have contributed to its rich history. Bill will be greatly missed by his devoted wife Rita, his daughter Nancy Seay and her husband George, daughter-in-law Pat Clements, his grandchildren Cathy Matthews and husband Buzz, Bill Clements and wife Gigi, Margaret Napier and husband Jeff, George Seay and wife Sarah, and Pauline Neuhoff and husband Austin, and his fourteen great-grandchildren; his step children Dan Bass, Bonnie Smith and husband Peter, Barbara Moroney and husband Jim, and Jim Bass and wife Hong, and thirteen step-grandchildren. Bill was pre-deceased by his beloved son Gill. A memorial service will be held at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church on Thursday, June 2, 2011, at 4 p.m. Memorial donations may be directed to the Texas charity of your choice.


Funeral Home

Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Home & Memorial Park
7405 West Northwest Highway Dallas, TX 75225
(214) 363-5401

Published in Dallas Morning News from May 31 to June 2, 2011