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Rita Clements, Widow Of Former Texas Governor, Dies At 86

Bill and Rita Clements
Former Texas Governor Bill Clements and his wife, Rita. (Credit: SMU)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Rita Clements, former first lady of Texas and widow of former Texas governor Bill Clements, has died. She was 86.

Her passing was confirmed to CBS 11 by the Dallas County Medical Examiner's office. She passed away early Saturday morning.

Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement regarding her death:

"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."

Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, also sent out a statement, saying Rita Clements was a "strong Texas woman" and "a wonderful First Lady for the Lone State State."

Southern Methodist University President R. Gerald Turner mourned the loss of the former first lady of Texas:

"Rita Clements' passion for education was clear to everyone who knew her.  Our University was fortunate to benefit from that passion over the many years that she and Governor Clements, who was an SMU alumnus, generously shared their time and resources with us. It's only part of her legacy, but the beautiful campus of SMU-in-Taos and the programs it provides for faculty and students will always be a tribute to that generosity. We will miss her."

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