Former Texas First Lady Rita Crocker Clements died Saturday morning, according to a family statement. She was 86. 

The widow of Texas Gov. Bill Clements was an avid Republican long before the party took control of the state. She was a volunteer for President Dwight D. Eisenhower's first presidential campaign and was a state co-chair for Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign. She served on the Republican National Committee in 1973.

She married Clements in 1975 and led a renovation of the Governor's Mansion while her husband was in office.

In her later years, she served her alma mater — the University of Texas at Austin — as a member of the board of regents, as an appointee of both Gov. George W. Bush and Gov. Rick Perry.

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In a Saturday statement, Gov. Greg Abbott called Clements "a great steward of the Governor's Mansion" and a "true stateswoman."

"Texas has suffered a tremendous loss, but Rita leaves behind an incredible legacy," he added.

Bush concurred: "When we think of Rita, we think of a strong Texas woman and a pioneer in the Republican Party."

Rita Clements was born in 1931 in Kansas, but her family moved to Brady, Texas, during her childhood. She attended the Hockaday School in Dallas.

She is survived by four children, a brother and 13 grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled at St. Michaels and All Angels Church in Dallas on Thursday. 

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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