Dr. Robert V. Clements, a retired brigadier general in the Air Force Reserve and longtime family dentist, died June 27 with congestive heart failure, family members said. He was 90.
After serving as a fighter pilot in World War II, Dr. Clements devoted his life to caring for military service members and civilian families as a dental professional. He earned a dental degree in 1952, settled in Carmichael and treated generations of patients as a dentist and orthodontist in private practice for many years at Madison and Manzanita avenues.
Meanwhile, he climbed the ranks in the Air Force Reserve and was responsible for dental care for all service members west of the Missouri River as an assistant to the Air Force surgeon general. He retired as a one-star general in 1983 after 35 years in the Reserve.
“He was back at the Pentagon all the time helping to formulate policy,” his daughter Cheryl Bodle said. “He was very interested in making sure that military personnel would have access to the highest standard of care, even in times of war.”
Dr. Clements was well known in the military community for his efforts to obtain comprehensive health care benefits for service members. Besides lobbying lawmakers to approve TRICARE for Life, a health care program for military retirees and their families, he maintained an email list that disseminated campaign information to more than 60,000 service members and retirees.
“People contacted him all the time about problems they were having with the system, and he would try to reach out to his contacts to get problems resolved,” his daughter said.
Born Feb. 6, 1924, in Danville, Ill., Robert Vance Clements lived with his family in Colorado and Arizona before joining the Army Air Corps in 1943. After completing flying school, he worked as a medic and was a pilot aboard P-39, P-63 and P-38 planes in the Pacific. He graduated from University of Arizona in 1948 and completed a dental program at University of California Medical Center in San Francisco.
Active in Scouting since 1937, he was a longtime leader in the Boy Scouts of America. He was a former commissioner of the Golden Empire Council and a fixture for many years at Scout Jamborees in the United States and other countries, including New Zealand. An Eagle Scout, he received the Silver Antelope Award for his contributions to Scouting in 1973.
Twice divorced, Dr. Clements is survived by his wife of 52 years, Iris. In addition to Bodle, he is survived by daughters Cathy, Marianna Wilson, Kathleen Perry and Robin; three sons, Robert Jr., Richard and Kevin; two stepsons, Butch Keylock and David Keylock; 16 grandchildren; and several great-grandchildren. No service is planned.
Call The Bee’s Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Davila.