For Hugh Rodham, born 1950, see Hugh Rodham.
Hugh E. Rodham
BornHugh Ellsworth Rodham
April 2, 1911
Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA
DiedApril 7, 1993 (aged 82)
Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
OccupationBusinessman (textile wholesaler)
Known forFather of Hillary Rodham Clinton
Political partyRepublican
ReligionUnited Methodism
Spouse(s)Dorothy Howell Rodham
ChildrenHillary, Hugh, Tony

Hugh Ellsworth Rodham (April 2, 1911 – April 7, 1993) was an American textile wholesaler and father of former First Lady of the United States, New York Senator, and United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.


He was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the son of Hugh Rodham and Hannah Jones.[1] His father was English, an immigrant from County Durham, while his mother was born in Pennsylvania, to Welsh immigrant parents; both were descended from lines of coal miners.[1][2][3]

Rodham attended Pennsylvania State University and was a third-string tight end for the Penn State Nittany Lions football team.[4] He joined the Delta Upsilon Fraternity.[2] He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education[2] 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,[5] then freighthopped to Chicago without telling his parents.[2] Rodham found work there selling drapery fabrics around the Midwest, sending the money he made back home.[2]

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.[2][5] After a lengthy courtship, they married in early 1942.[2] 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.[2]

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.[2] His company made drapes and window shades; his customers included offices, hotels, airlines, and theaters.[4] He later opened a fabric print plant building on the North Side.[2] Rodham tried politics once, running for Chicago alderman as an independent in 1947; he lost badly to the Richard J. Daley political machine with which he was hoping to ingratiate himself.[4]

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.[2] The family still maintained ties to Scranton; all three children were christened there, and they spent summers at a cottage overlooking Lake Winola, located in Overfield Township in the nearby Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains,[2][5] that he and his father had built themselves in 1921.[6]

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."[7] 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.[8]

Hugh Rodham died in Little Rock, Arkansas, on April 7, 1993, three weeks after suffering a stroke[8] 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.[8]

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