Dwayne was born to Tommy John “TJ” Clanton and Bettye Nelle Baker on December 20th, 1954, their third born of 5 Clanton children.
As fate would have it, God brought him into this world right before the big Christmas rush at the family restaurant Tom & Bingo’s Bar-B-Q. By age 7, he was standing on a pickle bucket chopping onions for customers. His daddy put a match in his little mouth to keep those tears from runnin’. As a child, he had the sweetest smile on his face, and was so easy going. He loved being a brother.
Dwayne was a natural born athlete. He began baseball in the Pee Wee’s coached by his dad and honed his skills in Colt league where they qualified for the World Championships. In high school, he was a standout at 3rd base and catcher and helped bring in the very first State Baseball Championship for Monterey High school in 1972, under Coach Bobby Moegle. He was proudly inducted into the LISD Athletics Hall of Honor with his team in 2015. Dwayne also played football at Evans Jr. High and was a hard hitting defensive linebacker at Monterey High School. During his first start, ever he made 13 tackles and was defensive player of the week, according to the paper he was a “terror” on that Saturday night.
After graduation, he attended Texas Tech University and studied Horticulture. He only had 16 hours left to graduate, but decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. He was definitely a chip off the “ole block”. After spending, much of his free time as a child helping his dad at the store he became the next generation Pit Master for Tom & Bingo’s Hickory Pit Bar-B-Q in 1984. He was instilled with a true “Texas Grit” work ethic from his parents. His roots of labor grew on the family farm where he tended to rabbits, exotic birds, the feed store and a large garden.
Pit master Dwayne Clanton was a Lubbock icon and garnered numerous accolades: Texas Monthly Top – 50 Best Bar-B-Que Joints in Texas (twice), other mentions in Texas Monthly Magazine, a feature on the Texas Country Reporter and ESPN college Game Day and was included in Road Food (the coast-to-coast guide of the top 800 Restaurants) and the Texas Map Guide. He proudly bottled his famous BBQ sauce which is currently for sale in select Texas Market Streets and HEB’s. The sauce was an HEB Quest for the Best Finalist in 2015. As one customer put it, the Bar-B-Q was great, but the man was better.
Dwayne may have worked indoors, but his passion was for the outdoors, God’s creation. He loved to ski the mountain, fly fish the river, fish and boat the lake, and hunt the wilderness. When the BBQ ran out he was “gone fishin’”.
Dwayne met the love of his life and best friend, Liz Lawson in 1989. Actually, it was more of a reunion, as they had been classmates since Jr. High. They were married 6 months later, on August 12th and a 27-year love story thus began. It was a package deal. The story book began with Liz’s 10-year-old daughter Heather, whom he loved like his very own. On August 7th 1990, they welcomed their bundle of Joy, Kristi Bess and the twinkle in his eye beamed with pride ever since. Kristi inherited his good looks, athleticism and strong work ethic. He became Pop D on April 27th, 2015. His granddaughter Stella Ray came into this world on his Mom’s birthday and she stole his heart ever since. Dwayne was a humble family man. He was real. He was very set in his ways, and lucky for us his ways were hard working, loving and providing for his family- which he always put first. Dwayne’s true joy in life was his wife, daughters, granddaughter, siblings…his entire family. He was the best son, brother, husband, dad and granddad. Dwayne was our rock, our leader our love. He was ready to fight, but Jesus had other plans.
Survivors include his wife; Liz Clanton; daughters, Heather Espina and husband, Denis; Kristi Timmons and husband, Ian; granddaughter, Stella Ray Espina; siblings, A.I. “Bubba” Clanton and wife, Debby; Becky Cathey and husband, Reggie; Brenda Dunn and husband, Rodney; Melinda Ogle and Bob Sikes; and his Morkie, Crosby.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Tommy John and Bettye Nell Clanton; and his Chocolate Lab, Trailer.
Memorial contributions are welcome and the family suggests, Special Olympics, 4601 50th St #215, Lubbock, TX 79414 or Lubbock’s High Point Village, High Point Village 6223 County Road 6300 Lubbock, TX 79416.