Jay Nixon, Hickenlooper speak as many gather for Clements' memorial at Woodcrest

Friday, April 5, 2013 | 9:05 p.m. CDT; updated 6:23 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 6, 2013
Visitors gathered Friday at Woodcrest Chapel at a memorial service for Tom Clements, the executive director of Colorado's Department of Corrections. Clements spent 31 years working for the Missouri Department of Corrections, ending as the director of the division of adult institutions.

COLUMBIA — Flags lined Sinclair Road and the driveway of Woodcrest Chapel on Friday. 

In the chapel's lobby, 25 Department of Corrections Honor Guard members stood at attention to honor Tom Clements, a slain corrections officer and former Columbia resident.

About 600 to 700 people gathered for a memorial service at the chapel that Clements and his family attended for 15 years.

Clements, who was 58, began as a parole officer in St. Louis. He worked for the Missouri Department of Corrections for 31 years, during which time he became the Director of the Division of Adult Institutions. In 2011, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper appointed Clements the executive director of Colorado's Department of Corrections.

The service began with the presentation of colors and an opening obituary from Rev. Pieter Van Waarde.

Gov. Jay Nixon spoke at the memorial. He said Clements led a life defined by family, faith, character and service.

"He had an unwavering dedication to help find redemption for troubled souls," Nixon said. "It was never an easy job, but Tom loved it."

Hickenlooper said Clements considered his job a calling and described it as his "mission on Earth." He recalled a video of Clements speaking to offenders right before their release from prison.

Clements "was proud, believed in them and knew they were going to succeed," Hickenlooper said. "He believed in redemption in every person."

Lisa Clements, with her daughters Sara and Rachel Clements by her side, spoke at her husband's memorial. She expressed grief and confusion about her husband's death. Before the ceremony, images of Clements and his family hiking to the top of Pikes Peak, playing Mad Gab, sitting around a beach fire and napping on the couch were projected across several screens.

Lisa Clements remarked on her husband's devotion to her and their daughters. She said that he often referred to the three of them as "his girls."

George Lombardi, director of the Missouri Department of Corrections, spoke about his former co-worker's integrity and decency.

"If you looked up the word gentleman in the dictionary, you'd find Tom's picture there," Lombardi said.

He quoted Tom Clements' motto, "It's always the right time to do the right thing."

Hickenlooper said the person who sat next to Tom Clements at business dinners left the party with a new friend.

Van Waarde, the minister at Woodcrest, had dinner with Tom Clements and his wife and four other couples every other Sunday when the Clements family lived in Columbia. Tom Clements also served in the youth ministry at Woodcrest and helped found the church's bike club.

Tom Clements was fully engaged in conversation, Waarde said. "He was always thinking about other people."

Barry Bennett was one of the Patriot Guard Riders at the service who had known Tom Clements for about 15 years. Bennett said Tom Clements was always positive and never had a bad thing to say about anyone.

Bennett said the tributes at Tom Clements' memorial were "absolutely the truth."

"That was Tom to a T," he said.

Supervising editor is Emilie Stigliani.

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