Friends and family gathered in Woodcrest Chapel on Friday to honor the life of Tom Clements, the Colorado Department of Corrections executive director who was killed March 19.
Clements lived in Columbia for 27 years before moving to Colorado in 2011. He and his family attended Woodcrest for 15 of those years. Clements worked at the Missouri Department of Corrections for about three decades, working his way up from probation officer to director of the Division of Adult Institutions.
Around 600-700 people attended the service at Woodcrest on Friday. Many were Clements’ former colleagues in the Missouri corrections department. Govs. Jay Nixon and John Hickenlooper paid their tributes to Clements at the service, as did the director of Missouri Department of Corrections, George Lombardi.
“It fills me with pride that such an honorable and decent man got his start in public service right here in the Show-Me State,” said Nixon.
Hickenlooper said Clements was the type of person who was good to have in a foxhole when things got tough.
“He believed in redemption,” said Hickenlooper. “He believed in the ability for the human heart to change.”
Also paying tribute to Clements was family friend and Columbia resident John Whiteside. A few days after Clements’ death, Whiteside wrote a poem about his friend and posted it as a Facebook status. Clements’ widow, Lisa, saw the status and asked Whiteside to read it at the service. The poem described Clements as a loving, brave and active man.
“Tom was everything all those people said, and then some,” said Whiteside. “He worked in a very, very difficult area and he was never discouraged. After 30 plus years, it takes a remarkable person to do what he did and to maintain that optimism.”
Clements was shot upon opening the door at his home in Monument, Colo., one evening last month. A suspect was killed after a police shootout in Texas, but Colorado police officers have arrested another man who might have a connection to Clements' killing.