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William Clinger, Warren native and longtime congressman, dies at 92

Times Observer file photo Congressman William Clinger at a campaign event. Clinger represented Warren County from 1979 until 1997.

Longtime Warren County Congressman William Clinger has passed away. According to his daughter, Clinger died at the age of 92 on May 28.

“We are devastated,” Bijou Clinger said in a Facebook post, “but know he is still noble, brave and hopeful.”

William Floyd Clinger Jr. was born in Warren on April 4, 1929. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in 1951 and then served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1951 until 1955.

He worked at the New Process Co. from 1955 until 1962 until he went to law school at the University of Virginia.

Admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1965, Clinger worked in private practice in Warren as well as in Washington under the auspices of the Economic Development Administration until his election to the 96th Congress in 1979.

His political engagement grew during that period as he served as a delegate to the Pennsylvania state constitutional convention in 1967 and then as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1972.

He would go on to serve in each Congress from the 96th through the 104th, retiring at the end of that Congress in January 1997.

One of his good friends in Warren was Bob Sokolski — it was the Sokolskis that actually introduced Clinger when he announced his candidacy for Congress.

“The space was open. I obviously knew him extremely well,” Sokolski said. “(He was) one of my best friends. He was my attorney and my company’s attorney.”

He praised Clinger’s work in that role and said that “made me think — if he were to become a Congressman, (he would) do a real good job at that also which he did do.

“I always found him to be a very reasonable person,” Sokolski said, calling it “easy to get behind him.”

He said Clinger ultimately retired from Congress because there “wasn’t enough non-partisanship stuff.”

To show that bipartisanship, Sokolski said Clinger was friends with both John Kasich, former Congressman and Republican governor of Ohio, and Al Gore.

Sokolski said Clinger met his wife, Judy, at Chautauqua Institution — their parents both had homes there. Clinger’s father was in the oil industry in the county. They lived in Alexandria once he retired from Congress before moving to Florida.

But Chautauqua was always a happy place for them.

“Basically, they would go back every year to Chautauqua,” he explained “They had a home there. It was a big part of their life.”

See Wednesday’s edition for complete coverage.

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