More than 400 friends, family members and former Missouri co-workers of Tom Clements packed Friday afternoon's memorial service at Woodcrest Chapel in Columbia, where he had been a youth minister.
Clements was a St. Louis native who worked for the Missouri Department of Corrections for 31 years before taking the top prisons job in Colorado in 2011. He rose through the ranks from a probation and parole officer in St. Louis to an administrative job overseeing Missouri's 21 adult prisons.
Colorado officials are investigating whether a violent white supremacist gang based in that state's prison system was behind his death at his Colorado Springs home last month.An honor guard escored his family to the church, where the memorial service began with a slideshow of family, vacation and holiday photos.Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Clements lived a life "full of family, faith, value and service." He added that Clements put an emphasis on rehabiliation, not punishment, and that the state is stronger and the communities safer because of Clements.George Lombardi, director of the Missouri Department of Corrections, praised Clements for his professional and family work. He said one of Clements' favorite quotes was "It's always the right time to do the right thing," adding that we should all make an effort to live by those words.Clements' wife Lisa, with daughters Sara and Rachel on either side, said he had a "life well lived." She said her husband showed that a single person can make a difference in the life of another. She went on to share the story of how they met in college at age 19 while taking a juvenile delinquency class.Lisa said her husband believed in the ability for the human heart to change, echoing Nixon's words about rehabilitation and redemption.She said she can't understand what happened, but will not allow herself to be overtaken by bitterness or grief.Clements was heavily involved with Columbiaâ??s Woodcrest Chapel. He even started the churchâ??s bike club several years ago.Woodcrest Chapel administrators said Clementâ??s murder has been a main topic of discussion at their church.Woodcrest Senior Pastor Pieter van Waarde said, "Itâ??s one of those things were you think this is always going to happen to somebody else.ã??Itâ??s not going to happen in your relational world.ã??When you do experience it, you donâ??t know what to say because in the middle of it youâ??re grieving yourself."Tom Clements and his wife Lisa were members of Columbiaâ??s Woodcrest congregation for more than 15 years before they left for Colorado.