Robert Jess Claiborne


June 10, 1947 — August 2, 2020

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Robert Jess Claiborne, 73, passed away August 1, 2020, in Alto, New Mexico. He is preceded in death by his parents, Jesse Mae Wood and JB Claiborne of Lamesa, Texas. Jess was born in Haskell, Texas. Six weeks after his birth he moved to Lamesa, Texas, where his father started a Piggly Wiggly franchise. Lamesa would be his home for the next 18 years. He attended Texas Christian University from 1965- 1969, attaining a Business Administration degree specializing in personnel management. Jess played four years on the TCU golf team winning the individual Southwest Conference title in 1968 and went to the NCAA National Championship.

He turned professional in 1969 and pursued a career in tournament golf. He was also assistant pro at Colonial Country Club and played Mini Tour Circuit in South Texas while going through players schools in Oklahoma City and Winston Salem North Carolina trying to obtain a PGA tour spot. After missing the tour both years by one stroke, Jess returned to the grocery business.

For the next 45 years, Jess & Carolyn grew and expanded the family business to various locations and labels. Piggly Wiggly, Claiborne’s Thriftway, Seminole Thriftway, Super Mercado Midland and San Angelo, Texas. During that time for 39 years, Jess proudly served on the board of Affiliated Foods Cooperative Warehouse in Amarillo where he was on the following committees: Finance, Plains Dairy a subsidiary of AFL, Hispanic Formatting, Recycling & Reclamation, Institutional food distribution and Produce procurement in the US, Mexico, and South America.

During that time, Jess was involved in the direction of many organizations. A life long member of the First United Methodist Church in Lamesa, serving on the board of finance for many years. He also served on the board of the Texas Golf Association, 32nd degree Mason and member of the Scottish Rite Temple for the last 40 years. Jess and Carolyn are members of The Church at Horseshoe Bay, Alto Golf & Country Club, Kokopelli Golf & Country Club, Outlaw Golf Course, Austin Golf Club, Horseshoe Bay Resort, and The Jockey Club. Jess was to be named board member of the The Jockey Club on August 2, 2020.

One of his greatest passions led him to one of his proudest accomplishments. Jess was proudly the #1 founding member of Escondido Golf & Lake Club, in Horseshoe Bay, TX. He played an integral part in design and creation of the beautiful 18 hole golf course along side Tom Fazio, world renown golf course architect. Together, Jess and Carolyn built an amazing life and home at Escondido, Jess lovingly called Escondido his “heaven on earth.”

Jess was affectionately known and called by many as “Smiling Jess”. He always had it on, it was infectious and a part of him that everyone adored. He shared his big heart through that beautiful smile. Jess could always find positives no matter how hard life became for him or anyone else he cared for. He never gave up. People often came to him for advice, he was a Godly man and used every moment he could as a teaching or learning moment. When he asked you a question, he really wanted to know and when he gave you advice, he lived by it as well. He truly had a connection with each and every person whether he had just met them or had a lasting relationship with them. He always stopped and took time to talk and touch their lives and make them feel important. Jess was his families Number 1 … everything, he was passionately involved in each one of their lives. He will be deeply missed and never forgotten.

Jess is survived by his wife of 50 years, Carolyn Claiborne; his daughter, Jessica Claiborne Bade and her husband Randy Bade of New Braunfels, Texas; his son, Robert Justin Claiborne and his wife Kim Azar Claiborne of Alpine, Texas; along with his grandchildren, Jackson Giles Bade, Robert Cole Claiborne, Ava Aneica Shepperd, and John Ben Shepperd. Also survived by his brother Jay Wood Claiborne and his wife Zela Claiborne of Berkley, California and their children Jason & Gavin Claiborne.

Memorial contributions to: Scottish Rite For Children, 2222 Welborn St., Dallas, TX 75219, scottishriteforchildren. org.