As a security guard working for decades near UT, Richard “Tiny” Clinton oversaw fraternity parties and kicked out the unruly.
Despite the tough face he kept for the job, he received the affectionate nickname “Tiny” from a fraternity student who noticed how big and friendly he was while guarding the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house one night in the late ’90s.
“One (fraternity student) walked up and said ‘you know you’re a big guy we should just call you Tiny because you’re so big and you’re so nice,’” said Tiny’s son, who is also named Richard Clinton and recollected what his father said. “So it just kind of stuck.”
Richard Clinton, a security guard in West Campus who mentored and kept UT fraternity students out of trouble, died on Nov. 3 from pancreatic cancer. He was 61 years old.
He founded his eponymous “Tiny’s Risk Management,” which provided security during events and protected students, such as the one who gave him his nickname.
“He’s always looking out for you, touched a lot of people’s lives in the most unlikely of ways,” said Andrew Campbell, a UT alumnus and Phi Gamma Delta member who became friends with Tiny when he worked security at his fraternity.
Campbell said Tiny helped many students who struggled with drug addiction because he was a former addict himself.
“He sponsored dozens and dozens of people and held them accountable and helped them break their addictions,” Campbell said. “That was always a powerful presence, someone to look up to who overcame that.”
Tiny guided not only students but also co-workers who sought to stay clean. William Anderson, a long-time employee of Tiny’s, met him decades ago during a Narcotics Anonymous meeting and said he was an example to many in recovery.
“He helped give me the means to stay clean for 21 years,” Anderson said. “And it’s thanks to him we were able to start this business.”
Anderson said Tiny would go out of his way to help students while on the job. Campus police would occasionally call him if they apprehended a fraternity student who knew him. Tiny would either go and pick them up himself, or have his staff do so.
“A lot of the police that worked West Campus were really familiar with Tiny,” Anderson said. “He went above and beyond his work on campus besides just doing a frat party.”
Last year, when Tiny was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer, his daughter, Latoya Clark, started a GoFundMe campaign that raised over $14,000 for his father’s treatment. A large portion of the donations came from UT students, many of whom learned about Tiny’s condition through an article on Total Frat Move which helped spread awareness.
Clinton said several hundred current and former UT students attended Tiny’s funeral.
“I was really surprised,” Clinton said. “I was really happy to see them and see the love my dad received and how much people really cared about him.”
Born and raised in San Francisco, Tiny moved to Austin as a teenager and attended Reagan High School. After graduation, he briefly played football in the mid-80s for the Houston Gamblers, a semi-pro team that includes luminaries such as Hall of Famer Jim Kelly.
Tiny worked a variety of jobs after retiring from football, from driving for Capital Metro to working security. His struggles with drug addiction would later become a personal triumph. He remained clean for 25 years up until his passing.
“He was a great father. He was my best friend. I know I could always go to him and talk to him when I had a problem,” Clinton said. “To this day, now that he’s gone now, I still wanna be like him. I still want to make him proud and carry on his legacy.”