Billy D. “Bill” St. Clair
Bill St. Clair of Aransas Pass, a long time businessman in the South Texas area, passed away on Thursday, June 30, 2016, at the age of 85. He was born on June 25, 1931, in Corpus Christi to William St. Clair and Mary Emma Alice Collins. He grew up in Aransas Pass and graduated from Aransas Pass High School in 1948 at the age of 16. St. Clair is preceded in death by his parents and son, Tim St. Clair. He was married for 61 years to his “sweetheart,” Beverly Jean Dickenson, and was a wonderful Dad to their daughters, Pamela St. Clair DeBolt (Roy) and Daryl “Snookie” St. Clair Morava (Michael). Mr. St. Clair was “Papa” to Christi St. Clair Knowles (Mike), Victoria St. Clair Broering (Tom), Mandy Marshall Moncrief (BJ), Angie Rawls Galjour (Mike), Tiffany DeBolt Haas (Derek), Kimberly St. Clair Perry (Mark), and Tim Rawls (Melodi). He had four greatgrandsons and four greatgranddaughters. St. Clair was the greatgrandson of G.B.R. Smith, the founder of Smith Flour Company. His grandfather, Joel Collins, came to Aransas Pass in 1926, and shipped fish and oysters to the east coast. His uncles, Ben Si Collins and Bobbit Collins, owned shrimp fleets in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. St. Clair shipped out on ESSO Standard Oil Tankers every summer to pay his way to the University of Texas, where he studied engineering. (There were no student loan programs back then.) He was very proud of his Merchant Marine Able Bodied Seaman Certification. St. Clair was a Korean War veteran, having served over three years in the U.S. Air Force, 49th Fighter Squadron. He was a licensed pilot, and owned several airplanes in his lifetime, including a twinengine Cessna 310, and a Cessna 421 Golden Eagle. After being discharged from the Air Force, Mr. St. Clair came home to Aransas Pass where he met his future wife, Beverly Dickenson, on a blind date. Beverly was from Nebraska, and was down visiting her godmother in Ingleside. Shortly after their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. St. Clair moved to Dallas, where Mr. St. Clair was employed as a field service engineer for the Lincoln-Mercury Division of Ford Motor Company. After becoming parents to two children, and with another one on the way, they made the decision to return home, and St. Clair and a couple of partners went into the metal building business in Corpus Christi. In 1971, he formed St. Clair Steel Structures, with Mrs. St. Clair as his partner. They were in business together for 43+ years until their retirement in January of 2015. St. Clair accomplished many things in his lifetime. He was a 3-term mayor of Aransas Pass (1993 – 1999), and along with the city council members, worked to rebuild his hometown during that period. They were instrumental in a house bill that was signed by the Governor allowing voters to pass a ½ cent sales tax increase for civic development. Testimony of this effort includes the Aransas Pass Aquatic Center and the Aransas Pass Civic Center. In 1997, St. Clair was one of 300 mayors, out of a field of 40,000, to be chosen as a “best small town mayor’ by the Texas Municipal League and the Walmart Foundation. These men and women were honored at a banquet at the Marriott Hotel in Washington D.C., where the Republican Majority Leader at the time, Trent Lott, was the keynote speaker. For many years, St. Clair was a member of the Board of Directors of the Gulf Coast Council of Boy Scouts of America. In 1989, he was awarded the Silver Beaver for his extraordinary fundraising efforts on their behalf. He loved the scouting program, and was honored at receiving such a prestigious award. St. Clair was an inventor, having applied for and received a U.S. Patent for his “Pedal Pony.” He also built the first metal building manufacturing plant in the Corpus Christi area, and later sold it to a Minnesota industrialist. St. Clair loved riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle, and was a member of the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) He particularly enjoyed riding in the Terry Labonte Roam for a Home rally every year, where large amounts of money was raised for the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Corpus Christi. St. Clair rode his bike until he was in his early 80’s, an accomplishment he was quite proud of! He prided himself on being an excellent bird hunter, and he was frequently heard saying, “Good shot Bill!” He greatly enjoyed the many years spent with family and friends at the dove-quail hunting camps. One of St. Clair’s favorite pastimes was collecting and restoring antique automobiles with his son Tim. He was considered an expert on almost all models. At one time, he had a private museum filled with beautifully restored cars, which he and Tim showed at various car shows around the state. They won many awards. His automobile engineering background aided him in this endeavor. While he was Mayor St. Clair, the FAA visited with him and others regarding modernizing or closing the old Aransas Pass airport off of Highway 361. The runway was short, with railroad tracks across the north end and the Intercostal Canal on the south, which made for dangerous landings. After much discussion, the decision was made to convert the old airport into an RV park, which was (and is today) a successful venture. With a lot of help from his good friend, Precinct 4 County Commissioner Gordon Porter, and many others, St. Clair was instrumental in obtaining grant money from the FAA to purchase 250 acres from the T.P. McCampbell heirs for a new county airport. The McCampbell-Porter Airport, which it is called today, has a runway that is 5,000 feet. He was the first chairman of the Airport Advisory Board, and was honored with an award from the San Patricio County Judge and Commissioners for his 15 years of dedicated service. This was one of St. Clair’s proudest achievements. St. Clair loved the Lord and was baptized at the First Baptist Church in Aransas Pass on October 31, 1943. He was a church member until his death. He was proud to attend the 100th anniversary of his church in 2009. Special thanks to our close friend and Dad’s caregiver Ginger Riddell, along with Dad’s caregiver, a/k/a “buddy,” Shelly Cox. Also, special thanks to Abel Rodriguez and Natividad Hart. All of you were a blessing to us, and especially to Dad! Visitation will be held Monday, July 4, 2016, from 12 p.m. until 9 p.m. with the family being present from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Charlie Marshall Funeral Home in Aransas Pass, Texas. The funeral service will be Tuesday, July 5, 2016, at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 627 S. Houston St., Aransas Pass, Texas 78336. Burial will follow at the Prairie View Cemetery with full Military Honors.