Helen & Clyde Willbern
Clyde Willbern was born in 1919 in Runge, Texas, about half way between San Antonio and Corpus. Helen Young was born a year later in San Marcos where he and Helen met while students at the Southwest Texas State Teacher's College (now Texas State University). Clyde taught high school briefly in Yoakum, before enlisting in the US Navy a few days after Pearl Harbor was attacked. While serving almost three years in the Pacific theater, he survived three attacks aboard ship during combat. During this time, Helen taught school, and then like many women of her generation, she joined the war effort. Her job with the US Corps of Engineers took her to Canada with the Al-Can highway project. In 1944 Clyde and Helen were married at U.S. Naval Academy where he began graduate studies. At the close of the war, they returned home and Clyde pursued a law degree from the University of Texas. Clyde and Helen moved to Houston in 1948 where he served as an attorney for the various incarnations of Getty Oil until he retired as Manager of Administration. They had one daughter and two grandchildren.
Helen grew up in a musical family and enjoyed the rich cultural opportunities in Houston; she was as a long-time season ticket holder for both the Houston Symphony and the Houston Ballet. She served first as a Girl Scout leader and then on the Board of the San Jacinto Council of the Girl Scouts of America. She continued to keep in touch with “her girls”, having troop reunions and visits from troop members the rest of her life.
After retirement, Clyde and Helen traveled extensively and remained extremely active in their community, the City of Bellaire. For 40 years Clyde taught an adult Sunday School class at the SW/Central Church of Christ. He was chairman of Bellaire’s Planning and Zoning Commission, of the Advisory Board for the Bellaire Office on Aging, and of the Bellaire/Southwest Houston Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce named him “Mr. Bellaire” in 1986.
Clyde was also involved in many charitable organizations, including the Braes Interfaith Ministries and the Hospitality Apartments-HRDF, as well as the Scholarship Foundation of the Bellaire/Southwest Houston Chamber of Commerce. In 1994 Texas State University honored Mr. Willbern with the Distinguished Alumni award, an honor he shared with both his older brothers.
Although the Willberns’ personal involvement became limited after Helen's death in 1998 and Clyde’s relocation to Fort Worth, their legacy continued through the Chamber’s scholarship program enriching the lives of public high school students in the Chamber's service area.
Clyde Elton Willbern, passed away on August 5, 2011 And the legacy continues through the Willbern Heritage Scholarship Foundation.