Wilburn Elmore in his store in downtown Houston. Credit: FILE PHOTO

Wilburn Elmore, who was associated with downtown Houston as a merchant for 72 years, has passed away.

Mr. Elmore, who owned the clothing business that bears his name, had been in ill health and was hospitalized beginning over the weekend at Texas County Memorial Hospital in Houston.

At 93, Mr. Elmore began his long tenure in retailing in 1949 while working at Leavitt’s Department Store at Grand Avenue and Pine Street in Houston. He remained with the firm for 25 years before opening his own clothing store in 1973 a few blocks to the south on Grand Avenue. Levi jeans were a staple of his long career as a merchant. He began selling them in about 1950. Elmore’s Men’s and Boy’s Wear later relocated across the street from where he started at Leavitt’s.

2007 — Wilburn and Imogene Elmore were the recipients of the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award. “I want to say one more thing,” Elmore told those assembled that night after being introduced by his brother, Lloyd. “You can’t believe a word my brother says.”

A lifelong resident of Houston, Mr. Elmore spent two years in the U.S. Navy in World War II. He returned to Houston and took a veterans course in store management before joining Leavitt’s.

A 1946 graduate of Houston High School, he was active in his church and community affairs. He was instrumental in providing a lead to land the Lee Co. to Houston. He is a recipient of the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mr. Elmore was a member of a local southern gospel group, the Harmoniers, which was formed in 1948 and they traveled throughout the region and appeared on TV.

Mr. Elmore was preceded in death by his wife, Imogene, another downtown fixture who was employed at Duff’s Western Auto store for 46 years. He is survived by a son, Marty, of West Plains.

In a 2013 interview, Mr. Elmore was still touting his hometown. “This is a great town,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

Services for Mr. Elmore are 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6, at First Baptist Church, Houston. Visitation is 1 p.m. until service time. Send an online condolence. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to First Baptist Church, Houston.

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