Former Texas Gov. Bill Clements, 94, who in 1979 became the state's first Republican elected governor since Reconstruction, died Sunday after what his family said was a brief stay at a Dallas-area hospital.

Family members said he had been ill for several months and grieving the death of his son, who was shot and killed by a neighbor last year.

Gov. Clements' belief that state government should operate like a big business helped change the face of Texas politics. "Texans and Americans have lost a leader whose leadership, service, and patriotism were unparalleled," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said.

Gov. Clements, a Texas oilman, saw his first term in office as a major change in the way the state operated.

"It is the largest business in Texas and yet we run it like it was a soda water shed - or a barbecue stand," he said shortly before turning over the chief executive's job to Democrat Mark White, a lawyer and part-owner of a barbecue firm who upset Gov. Clements' reelection bid in 1982.

Gov. Clements came back four years later to defeat White and served until 1991.

His political career included heading Richard Nixon's 1972 presidential campaign in Texas. He also was deputy defense secretary from 1973 to 1977. - Associated Press