‘Clem’ Clemmons leaves legacy as professional lawman

May 29, 2013

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The man whose presence helped keep order in the court for many years in Granbury is gone, but memories of his integrity and highly skilled law enforcement career remain.

Harold Leo “Clem” Clemmons died Monday, May 20.

He retired at age 77 in April 2011 from his most recent duties, as bailiff for Judge Ralph Walton in 355th Judicial District Court. That was preceded by a long line of adventures in various facets of law enforcement.

“We’re certainly going to miss him,” Walton said, noting “deep regret” over Clemmons’ death.

“Clem was just extremely professional,” the judge said. “You could tell he was a top-notch law enforcement officer. He was very businesslike. He would not tolerate any misbehavior. He knew that’s the way I wanted things done. He just knew.”

The funeral service for Clemmons was Friday at the Church of Christ in Glen Rose, and he was buried in Squaw Creek Cemetery. He and wife, Teresa, married in El Paso in September 1958, and in recent years made their home in Rainbow.

His law enforcement career included stints with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the Border Patrol. He was selected for special 21-day security details to protect presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford during his time with the ATF. He served as a military police officer while in the Army, 1954-1957. Later, he worked security for the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant.

Clemmons was District Judge Tom Crum’s bailiff from 1993-1996, Walton said. Walton appointed Clemmons to be his bailiff in January 1999 and remained in that position until his retirement in April 2011.

Walton said he had known Clemmons for about 20 years, and was particularly impressed by his character.

“He was a good, devout Christian man, which impressed me,” Walton said. “He was a man of just really high integrity. His word was his bond. He would always deal with you in a straightforward fashion.

“He was just an outstanding guy. Most of his adult career was in law enforcement. He was head of security at Pecan Plantation two or three years, in the 1990s.”

Walton said that health issues prompted Clemmons to decide it was time to retire.

If not for that, Walton said, he probably would have still been serving as his bailiff – a position that is selected by the person who holds the district judge position.

Hood County District Attorney Rob Christian said, “As a young prosecutor, I often sought Clem’s advice on working with the court and law enforcement. I am grateful for his counsel over the years.”

District Court Administrator Penny Hallmark said that Clemmons tried his best to anticipate what Walton was about to do in various court situations, including when he was about to leave – which would require Clemmons to announce “All rise” to everyone in the courtroom.

“Clem watched his actions,” Hallmark said. “He knew what he was getting ready to do.”

Hallmark said that sometimes Walton would move his glasses down just before heading to the judge’s chambers. One time, Clemmons was just a little too quick on his feet and his instinct was just a bit off, according to Hallmark.

“He hollered ‘all rise’ and he wasn’t leaving,” Hallmark fondly recalled, displaying a big grin.

Clemmons was known for his love of fast cars and racing, and was a member of the Sports Car Club of America. He even raced Volkswagens as a member of the Texas International Drivers Association.

On a personal note, Walton said Clemmons was not always “strictly business” with his co-workers.

“He had a light side,” Walton said. “He loved to give gifts. He was very thoughtful in that respect.

“He would give Valentine’s Day gifts to the ladies in the District Clerk’s and the District Judge’s offices. He was giving of himself, and a fun guy to be around, too.”

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