Memorial service for slain Colorado prison director held in Columbia
Former Missouri corrections official and longtime Columbia resident remembered
Hundreds of people, including governors from two states, gathered at a south Columbia church to remember Tom Clements Friday afternoon.
His widow, Lisa, addressed friends and family in attendance, saying she wanted to take that moment to remember Tom the man, instead of just focusing on his work.
"Today's a bittersweet day," she said. "Returning here is a pleasure, but also reminding me of Tom's absence by my side."
The Clementses, including their two daughters, Rachel and Sara, spent 27 years in Columbia. They were members of the Woodcrest Chapel congregation for about 15 years.
Lisa Clements said she was not angry about her husband's shooting death. She won't let herself be.
"I just simply cannot understand it and I cannot indulge my anger or my bitterness or my regret. I would compromise who I am, what I believe, the mother and the person who I choose to be, if I allowed myself to be overtaken."
Clements, the former head of Colorado's prison system and a longtime Columbian and Missouri prison official, was gunned down at his Colorado Springs home on March 19.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was the first to give tribute and expressed thanks to the family for their service to the state.
"It was never an easy job, but Tom Clements loved it and he did it was passion," he said. "That was the quality of public servant he was and we are all better for it."
Clements retired from Missouri's corrections system in 2010, but was called on by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to take over that state's system.
"I never once saw him down," Hickenlooper said. "A friends of mine likes to say Tom had really big batteries."
Current Missouri DOC Director George Lombardi also paid tribute, and Woodcrest Chapel senior Pastor Pieter Van Waarde gave the benediction and a message to the family.
The emotional service started just after 4 p.m. and lasted a little more than one hour. It was the first time many former friends and neighbors had seen or heard from the family since Tom's murder.
"I choose not to be the widow of a murdered husband, but the bride who was a wife truly loved," Lisa Clements said.
Members of the Patriot Guard Riders of central Missouri led the family in procession to and from the church Friday.
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