H.C. Clemons founded Clemons Tractor and was a longtime civic and arts leader

Posted Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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2 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church of Fort Worth, 1000 Penn St.

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FORT WORTH -- Heywood Carroll Clemons, founder of Clemons Tractor Co. and a longtime civic and arts leader, died Sunday at his home in Westover Hills. He was 91.

Mr. Clemons started his tractor business more than 50 years ago in Fort Worth but over time he became equally well-known for his volunteer work.

He was a president of the Fort Worth Opera Association and Casa Mañana, and for 16 years, he was a member of the Van Cliburn Foundation executive committee and was its vice chairman and treasurer for eight years.

"I think he just fell in love with the city," said his wife, Harriett Atkinson Clemons. "I think he felt it was his duty to serve."

For 16 years, he was chairman of the board of Austin College, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church.

"Outside of his family, his three loves were his church, Austin College and the Van Cliburn Foundation," said Oscar Page, president emeritus at Austin College. "He loved music. He was a great supporter of the arts. All of this was evident in his personality."

Page said Mr. Clemons was quiet but persistent as chairman, working hard to create a new master plan for the college campus. In appreciation, Austin College created the Heywood C. Clemons Volunteer Award, named a room in its campus center after his wife and him, and gave him an honorary doctorate of humanities.

Mr. Clemons was born Dec. 20, 1921, in Bartlett and graduated with honors from Texas A&M University in 1943.

He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army field artillery and fought in World War II in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany, and he commanded Battery A of the 302nd Field Artillery Battalion in the 3rd Army, which initiated Gen. George Patton's successful ground invasion of Germany.

From 1946 through 1953, he worked in Dallas and San Antonio for the Stewart Co.

He founded Clemons Tractor Co. in 1954 and was chairman for 50 years. The company included dealerships in Cleburne and Oklahoma City.

Other professional and civic activities included the Fort Worth Farm and Ranch Association, the Fort Worth North Rotary Club and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. He was a director of the North Texas Commission.

For his role in promoting the beginnings of Fort Worth's highway system, in 1991 he received the Russell H. Perry Award for Distinguished Leadership in Texas Transportation.

Being a successful businessman wasn't his original goal. Mr. Clemons originally wanted to become a vocational agriculture teacher. But a week of teaching during his senior year of college changed his mind.

"That was just not what I wanted to do," Mr. Clemons said in 1997 Star-Telegram interview.

But his interest in education didn't go away.

His longtime leadership at First Presbyterian Church led to his becoming a trustee of Austin College in Sherman, where he oversaw the growth of its endowment from $24 million to $87 million.

Also through the church, he was founding chairman of Trinity Terrace.

Other survivors include sons Leland Carroll Clemons of Fort Worth and William Hubert Clemons of Houston; a sister, Louise Priestly Cates of Franklin; four grandsons; and four great-grandchildren.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

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