Former Texas First Lady Rita Clements dies at 86

Former Texas Governor Bill Clements with his wife, Rita Clements. (KXAN File)
Former Texas Governor Bill Clements with his wife, Rita Clements. (KXAN File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The former First Lady of Texas, Rita Clements, passed away Saturday morning at the age of 86.

She was the widow of Bill Clements, who served as Texas Governor from 1979 to 1983 and 1987 to 1991. She also served on President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s first presidential campaign and on the University of Texas System Board of Regents. She was a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

According to the Texas Tribune, a memorial is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 13, in Dallas.

Gov. Greg Abbott and his wife, Cecilia, released this statement:

Cecilia and I are truly saddened to learn of the death of Rita Clements, and we ask that all Texans join us in keeping the Clements family in their thoughts and prayers. Rita was an true stateswoman who served Texas both on the UT System Board of Regents and as a great steward of the Governors Mansion during her time as First Lady. Texas has suffered a tremendous loss, but Rita leaves behind an incredible legacy.

And President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush said:

We are saddened to learn that our friend, Rita Clements, has died. When we think of Rita, we think of a strong Texas woman and a pioneer in the Republican party. She was a wonderful First Lady for the Lone Star State. We remember Rita’s love of history – an interest from which we benefitted when we lived with the collection of historical art and furniture she curated for the Texas Governor’s Mansion. Most of all, we remember a friend whose beloved family and state loved her back and will miss her.

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