Hugh E. Rodham

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For Hugh Rodham, born 1950, see Hugh Rodham.
Hugh E. Rodham
Born Hugh Ellsworth Rodhams
November 15, 1911
Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died April 7, 1993 (aged 82)
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
Cause of death Stroke
Occupation Businessman (textile wholesaler)
Known for Father of Hillary Rodham Clinton
Political party Republican
Religion United Methodism
Spouse(s) Dorothy Howell Rodham (m. 1942–1993; his death)
Children Hillary, Hugh, Tony

Hugh Ellsworth Rodham (April 2, 1911 – April 7, 1993) was an American businessman. He was the father of former First Lady of the United States, United States Senator from New York, United States Secretary of State, and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Life and work[edit]

Rodham was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the son of Hugh Rodham (1879–1965) and Hannah Jones (1882–1952).[1] His parents were either from or parentally from the United Kingdom - his father was an immigrant from Oxhill, County Durham, England, the son of a coal miner,[2] while his mother was born in Pennsylvania, to immigrant parents from Wales, one of whom was from Merthyr Tydfil; she was also descended from coal miners.[1][3][4][5]

Rodham attended Pennsylvania State College and was a third-string tight end for the Penn State Nittany Lions football team.[6] He joined the Delta Upsilon Fraternity.[4] He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education[4] from the College of Education in 1935, at the height of the Great Depression.

He briefly worked for his father's employer, Scranton Lace Company,[7] then freighthopped to Chicago without telling his parents.[4] Rodham found work there selling drapery fabrics around the Midwest, sending the money he made back home.[4]

In 1937, while Rodham was making a sales call at a textile company, he met Dorothy Emma Howell (1919–2011), who was applying for a job at that company.[4][7] After a lengthy courtship, they married in early 1942.[4] Hugh Rodham enlisted in the United States Navy, where he became a Chief Petty Officer stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Station, performing training duties for sailors headed for the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II.[4]

After the war, he began what was to prove to be a very successful career in the textile supply industry, starting with Rodrik Fabrics, a drapery fabric business located in Chicago's famous Merchandise Mart building.[4] His company made draperies and window shades; customers included offices, hotels, airlines, and theaters.[6] He later opened a fabric print plant building on the North Side.[4]

Rodham entered politics once. Hoping to work his way into Richard J. Daley's Democratic Party political machine in order to capitalize on a downtown investment he had made, he ran for Chicago alderman as a Democratic-leaning independent in 1947, but was decisively beaten by someone running on the regular Democratic line.[6] According to some family members, this episode led to his strong dislike of the Democratic Party for the rest of his life.[6]

The Rodhams had three children: Hillary (born 1947), Hugh (born 1950), and Tony (born 1954). In 1950, they moved to the more affluent Chicago suburb of Park Ridge, Illinois.[4] The family still maintained ties to Scranton: all three children were christened there, and they spent summers in a rural region that overlooks Lake Winola, located in Overfield Township in the nearby Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains,[4][7] staying in a cottage that in 1921 Hugh and his father had built themselves.[8]

Rodham was a staunch supporter of Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign and remained a committed Republican until his death. Even after his daughter married Democrat Bill Clinton, he (according to Bill Clinton) "never gave up hope that his son-in-law would join him in the Republican Party and support a cut in the capital gains tax."[9] In late 1992, following Bill Clinton's election as president, Rodham made a cameo appearance on the television comedy Hearts Afire, whose producers were friends of the Clintons.[10]

Hugh Rodham died in Little Rock, Arkansas, on April 7, 1993, three weeks after suffering a stroke[10] and less than three months after Bill Clinton's inauguration as U.S. president. Following a private memorial service in Little Rock attended by the Clintons, he was buried in the Washburn Street Cemetery, Scranton, Pennsylvania, in a private funeral also attended by the Clinton family.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Roberts, Gary Boyd. "Notes on the Ancestry of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton". New England Historic Genealogical Society. Archived from the original on June 7, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  2. ^ Gavin Havery, Hillary Clinton: From North-East mining stock to American presidential candidate dated 27 April 2017 at
  3. ^ Smolenyak, Megan (April–May 2015). "Hillary Clinton's Celtic Roots". Irish America. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Clinton, Hillary Rodham. Living History. Simon & Schuster, 2003. ISBN 0-7432-2224-5. pp. 4-9.
  5. ^ Anna Mikhailova (2006-06-25). "Hillary traces roots to Durham". London: The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ a b c d Bernstein, Carl (2007). A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-375-40766-9.  pp. 16–18.
  7. ^ a b c "Reader Q&A", The Times-Tribune, June 19, 2007. Accessed July 12, 2007.[dead link] [1] (subscription required)
  8. ^ Larry King (2008-03-08). "Sen. Hillary Clinton's girlhood home (sort of)". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2008-03-12. Retrieved 2008-03-14. 
  9. ^ The Rodham Family Biography, AllPolitics,, 1996.
  10. ^ a b c Pace, Eric (1993-04-08). "Hugh Rodham Dies After Stroke; Father of Hillary Clinton Was 82". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 

External links[edit]