DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Longtime community leader and Durham City councilman Howard Clement died in his sleep around 6 a.m. Wednesday at the age of 82. Today, friends and family are talking about the legacy he leaves behind.
“He was my dad. So of course he was special to us,” said his daughter Saundra Daniels. “But, he was no more special because of the things that he did.”
For 30 years Clement worked as an attorney for North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance, the first black-owned insurance company in the state and the largest such company in the nation.
“His fingerprints are still on so many fingerprints at this company,” said Kimberly Moore, vice president of N.C. Mutual Life.
Moore met Clement when she started working at the company in the early 2000s.
“He was really a champion, not only for North Carolina Mutual holding court in our cafeteria, but a champion of Durham,” Moore said. “(He was) a champion for racial harmony in the city.”
She said Clement had a love for Durham that transcended his own interests. “He cared about Durham in a selfless way, and was an example of what you should be – a servant leader,” she said.
Clement was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease years ago. The disease gradually took over his nervous system.
“It really affected him because he was not able to be with the Durham community the way that he wanted to be,” Daniels said. “He had fewer and fewer appearances outside of the home.”
Today Daniels and her mother, Ann, are remembering the wonderful memories but they are also filled with grief and disbelief.
“I was holding his hand. He still had a pretty firm grip,” Daniels said. “So I was surprised when I got the news only several hours later that he had passed.”
She said the family is certainly sad “but we’re happy that he is no longer suffering because this was a very long illness for him.”