His funeral will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at First Christian Church.
Clymer was born May 18, 1925, in Wichita Falls. His family moved to Denison when he was 3. During high school he was a member of Denison’s national champion debating team. He served three years in the Navy during World War II and later finished his education at Southern Methodist University.
When he returned to Wichita Falls and established Golden Distributing Co. in 1961, he proudly referred to his background as a chicken rancher attempting to break into the big business world. The reference was the fact that he had worked alongside his dad in the poultry business.
As the principal owner of KAUZ-TV from 1978 to 1982, the beleaguered CBS affiliate began a four-year run as the most dominant local news station in the market. The station performed, and ratings soared. It was one of the few times Channel 6 dominated longtime news power KFDX.
It became obvious that Clymer had a knack, a gift to lead, inspire, sell and serve. His business, family, friends and community were forever his passion. Working to bring new business and jobs to Wichita Falls became his calling, especially during the years leading up to and following the 1979 tornado.
Although he always called industrial accomplishments a team effort, Clymer is credited for paving the way to between 10,000 and 15,000 new jobs and industrial growth that amounted to millions of dollars in expansion for the city.
For four decades, Clymer was a key figure for economic development at the Wichita Falls Board of Commerce and Industry. His name is synonymous with the likes of Bridwell, Kemp, Howard, Kell, Prothro and others.
He helped changed the dynamics of employment in the city. As Wichita Falls began to fade as an oil and gas stronghold, Clymer helped establish diversity among job sectors. At one point Wichita Falls listed more than 9,000 industrial and manufacturing jobs — more than larger Texas cities like Lubbock and Amarillo.
The list of entities he was involved with includes Howmet, Cryovac, Sprague Electric, CertainTeed, Delphi, PPG and the James Allred Correctional Institution. One of his proudest moments was the role he played in creating a community health care center that today serves as a vital link for thousands of economically disadvantaged residents to receive quality medical care.
Once during a flight from Florida to California in 1977, Clymer introduced himself to his seat companion. They began talking, and Clymer spoke with passion about the efforts Wichita Falls was making to attract new business.
His seat companion was a man named Theodore Operhall, who turned out to be the chairman and CEO of Howmet Turbine Corp. from Muskegon, Mich. Operhall said his plant was looking to relocate. Clymer’s antenna went up. He began jotting down the geographical, economic and quality of life advantages of Wichita Falls.
At the end of the long pitch, Clymer said, “All I ask is give us a chance.”
Operhall said he would, and the result became a multimillion dollar relocation and roughly 800 new jobs.
Former Wichita Falls Mayor J.C. Boyd once said: “Ray Clymer is perhaps this city’s most public spirited person.
Everything he does is with his own time and money. His contributions to the BCI may never be matched. He is truly an extraordinary citizen.”
Clymer often said that if a city doesn’t move forward, it has no place to go but backward. “No new jobs means no new homes. Money to spend at stores and restaurants dries up. Public education and important services inevitably struggle. Nothing good comes from sitting still.”
In the same manner as former Times Record News owner and publisher Rhea Howard, Clymer considered himself a conservative Democrat. Like Howard, he believed it was important for the good of the city that Wichita Falls sustain an active voice in state politics. He had close ties to various key legislators as well as governors Dolph Briscoe and Ann Richards.
He held the vice chair of the Texas Industrial Commission and served on the board of the Texas Wildlife Commission. He served on the Texas Coordinating Board for Higher Education and was twice chairman of the Board of Commerce and Industry.
When the city and county quarreled, Clymer cringed. He admitted he found most conflicts between people who should be working together counterproductive and a waste of time.
“The desire to improve is the most precious asset a city or business can have,” he once said. “What makes people successful is how much pleasure they are getting out of life. To be successful, you must be a giver, not a taker. You must be willing to give more to others than focusing only on what you can take for yourself.”
Harry Truman once said that progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.
In every sense of the word, Ray Clymer was a leader.
© 2010 Times Record News