This is the grave of W.W. Clements
Born in Windham Springs, Alabama in 1914, Clements was named after President Woodrow Wilson. I wonder how many little Donald Trump LastNames are running around Alabama these days. What a wonderful thing to consider. Anyway, he became known to his friends as Foots because evidently, he had weird shaped toes. This does not seem to have bothered him. He grew up with the wherewithal to find himself at the University of Alabama in the mid 30s. In 1935, he took a job delivering Dr. Pepper. And this soda would be his life. That wasn’t his first job, he really worked hard to put himself through school. He worked for the WPA for awhile as well, was a butcher in a supermarket, and helped run a cafe. Basically, he did whatever work he could find to survive and pay his bills.
In fact, other than its inventors, probably no one is more associated with Dr. Pepper in the 20th century than ol’Foots. The reason he stuck with the company is that it provided a lot more incentive to its salesmen than other soda companies. Most of them offered a 4 cent commission per case on cases sold outside the state, but DP offered 10 cents. Well, that made a lot of sense to Clements. He took a more permanent job with the company after graduation, became a sales manager in 1942 (he did not fight in World War II; maybe there was a special exception for soda mongers) and was moved to the company headquarters in Texas in 1944. He became general sales manager in 1957, executive vice president in 1967, president in 1969, and board chairman in 1974. He held that latter position until he effectively retired in 1986, the same year that Dr. Pepper merged with 7-Up. He maintained an honorary position with the company for the rest of his life.
Clements is also the primary mover behind the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco, which is in the company’s original bottling facility. Waco is unquestionably one of the worst cities in the country so if you are unfortunate enough to find yourself stuck there, you might as well go. I did once while in Waco and it’s alright, though the top floor of the museum is a giant monument to its corporate leaders that literally no visitor is going to care about. But whatever, when people create monuments to themselves, this is what happens. It opened in 1991 and has been successful enough. What the hell else are you going to do there?
Clements died in 2002, at the age of 88.
W.W. Clements is buried in Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park, Dallas, Texas.
If you would like this series to visit other legends of the soda industry, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Caleb Bradham, inventor of Pepsi, is in New Bern, North Carolina, and Claud Hatcher, inventor of RC, is in Columbus, Georgia. Previous posts in this series are archived here and here.