Clinton Manges

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Clinton Manges
Born (1923-08-22)August 22, 1923
Cement, Caddo County
Oklahoma, USA
Died September 23, 2010(2010-09-23) (aged 87)
San Antonio, Texas
Cause of death Cancer
Resting place Hahl Memorial Cemetery, Freer, Duval County, Texas, USA
Left grade school to pick cotton;

Later attended high school

Home town
Junction, Texas

Port Aransas, Texas

Net worth c. $1 billion total fortune at its peak[1]
Political party Democratic
Criminal charge mail fraud, bribery, conspiracy
Criminal penalty


Spouse(s) Ruth Richmond (m. 1946–2010, his death)
Children Barbie Cole, Clint Manges, Ruthie Herfort, MaLou Manges
John Henry Manges (1886 - 1971)

Charlotte Nancy Clark Manges (1894 - 1975)

sister, Dolly Fancher

brother, Chick Manges four other siblings

Military career
Service/branch U.S. Coast Guard
Rank Able Seaman
Battles/wars World War II

Clinton Manges (August 22, 1923 – September 23, 2010) was a controversial oil tycoon in Texas in the 1970s and 1980s.

Manges was born in Cement in Caddo County, Oklahoma. He began to amass hhis fortune in South Texas in the early 1970s, when he befriended Lloyd M. Bentsen, Sr., the father of U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, and political boss George Parr, known as the "Duke of Duval." In 1971, Manges bought a 100,000-acre (400 km2) ranch in the county. He was a confidante and close friend of numerous officials, including the late Attorney General Jim Mattox, Garry Mauro and Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock.[2][3][4]

Unlike most of his contemporaries, Manges was an unabashed political liberal. In contrast, most Texas oil barons like Eddie Chiles, Bunker and Lamar Hunt, Clint Murchison, and Bill Clements were extremely conservative and supported Republican candidates. With his large fortune, Manges was soon one of the most prolific supporters of Democratic candidates in Texas. He would often donate $50,000 or more to various statewide campaigns. Paul Burka of Texas Monthly wrote of Manges in 1984, "By mastering the mysterious ways of South Texas, Clinton Manges has built an empire, amassed political influence, declared war on the state establishment—and left bitter enemies in his wake."[2]

Personal life[edit]

Manges was born to migrant farm workers in Cement, Oklahoma. He dropped out of grade school to pick cotton. Later, he attended high school in Port Aransas and worked as a shrimper. After his wartime service in the Coast Guard, he moved to the Rio Grande Valley. He met Ruth Richmond, daughter of a prosperous local farmer, and fellow employee at the Rio Theatre in Raymondville; they married in 1946. At age 24 he suffered from tuberculosis. In the 1960s he worked in a gas station, where he met and impressed Lloyd Bentsen, Sr.; he subsequently represented Bentsen in his real estate dealings.[1][5]

Manges didn't smoke or drink. He agreed to pay legal expenses of Duval County District Judge O. P. Carillo in his impeachment trial.[6]

He owned the Mongoose bowling alley, and later the Mongoose cotton gin. He experienced financial problems in 1961, did not pay debts, and wrote bad checks to the state of Texas. The Small Business Administration foreclosed on the loan with which he started the ginning business. In 1963, he was indicted for making false statements on the application for that loan. He pleaded guilty in 1965 and paid a fine of $2500.[2]

Manges was convicted on federal charges of bribery and mail fraud in 1995, and after his appeals failed reported to prison in 1997. Charges of conspiracy to bribe the number two official of the Texas General Land Office were dismissed in U.S. district court for lack of federal jurisdiction.[3]

San Antonio Gunslingers[edit]

In 1984, Manges talked the fledgling United States Football League into granting him an expansion franchise, the San Antonio Gunslingers. In 1983, he had paid to upgrade Alamo Stadium with artificial turf and an all-weather track.[7] Despite Manges' wealth, the Gunslingers were badly undercapitalized. His habit of paying team expenses out-of-pocket caught up with him in 1985, when his oil fortune collapsed (though he'd been in financial trouble since at least 1980). In the ESPN documentary Small Potatoes - Who Killed the USFL? that first aired on Tues. October 20, 2009, former Gunslingers quarterback Rick Neuheisel stated that during that season, the players would often race each other to the bank in order to cash their paychecks. According to Neuheisel, the players knew that the first 50% of the checks deposited were likely to clear, but that the other half would likely bounce.

In June, Manges essentially walked away from the Gunslingers and stopped paying the team's bills, forcing the team to play the last stretch of the season for free. When he refused to make restitution for the team's debts, league commissioner Harry Usher revoked the franchise. The players sued Manges to recover back pay, but that suit collapsed when he declared bankruptcy in 1987. At least some of the players and coaches still hadn't been paid at the time of a 1998 reunion, and no one owed back pay had been paid at the time of his death.

Bankruptcy and prison[edit]

Manges' empire eventually collapsed (1987) and he was convicted and sentenced to prison for two years for mail fraud. He also lost 100,000-acre (400 km2) he had bought in 1968, Magic Kingdom ranch, to Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[4] In 1991 (or 1987), armed federal marshals arrived at the ranch by Black Hawk helicopter to seize his property.[1][5]

He died in a nursing home in San Antonio, Texas.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Martin, Douglas (September 28, 2010). "Clinton Manges, Volatile Texas Oilman and Rancher, Dies at 87". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  2. ^ a b c d Burka, Paul (June 1984). "The Man in the Black Hat". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  3. ^ a b "South Texas oil tycoon Clinton Manges dies at 87". Beaumont Enterprise. San Antonio Express-News. September 24, 2010. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  4. ^ a b "unknown". August 26, 1995. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b Wilcox, Robert (September 29, 2010) [2006]. "Millionaire Texas Oil Man, Clinton Manges, began his career in Raymondville". Raymondville Chronicle and Willacy County News. Raymondville, Texas. 
  6. ^ McNeely, Dave (November 1, 1983). "Mattox, Manges, Mobil, & Money. What happens when a South Texas tycoon mixes with an accident-prone politician? Double trouble". D Magazine. Archived from the original on September 9, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  7. ^ Flores, David (September 1, 2013). "It was strange to see Alamo Stadium dark, empty". David Flores' Blog. KENS-TV. Archived from the original on September 9, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 

External links[edit]

Clinton Manges at Find a Grave