Clarence Prevost, Jr.
From a very young age, Clarence Prevost, Jr. was “always on the hustle”, full of energy, engaged in the world, and seeking a better way. By age 10, Clarence had his own paper route. He bought his own school clothes at 13, and by 16 was living on his own.
Clarence was a sixth-grader at Anson P. Jones Elementary when he was chosen with a handful of classmates to attend an information session led by Bob Moore who had just started Chinquapin. Clarence remembers Moore saying, “it is my belief that poor kids are just as capable as rich kids…and I want you to be in the next group of students to come to Chinquapin.”
This idea blew Clarence’s mind, so he got on the Chinquapin bus and headed out to Tri-City Beach Road in Baytown to take a look around. Coming from a house where he was “dirt poor”, the campus was unlike anything he’d ever experienced.
Before Chinquapin moved to its current location on East Wallisville Road, Clarence helped clear the space – a former chicken farm – to make way for classroom buildings, a dining hall, and dormitories. He remembers fondly tending to chickens and turkeys and working in the garden. These chores along with cooking, cleaning up after meals, and cutting the grass, gave structure to the students’ school day. While current students no longer take care of livestock, the Chinqua-garden is thriving and provides produce for daily meals.
The hard work and discipline Clarence put in at Chinquapin prepared him for a life of service. “The Burr in me turned lemons into lemonade, and much, much, more.” Shortly after graduation, while thinking about joining the Air Force, Clarence was recruited by the Houston Fire Department. He had after all won two flying lessons while a member of the Chinquapin Civil Air Patrol group, led by Captain Jack Redding. Clarence just barely made the 140-pound minimum weight requirement, by gulping from the water fountain until he reached 141 lbs.!
Prevost’s determination and tenacity served him well. He began his long career with the fire department in 1978 at the age of 20 and earned Firefighter of the Year in 1990 while serving as a firefighter/paramedic. Prevost says he dispatched the first 25 responses out of the new 911 Center as a young dispatch Captain. Over the years, he delivered more than 300 babies! Yet, he says his greatest accomplishment was teaching two-thirds of all Houston firefighters hired between 1984 and 2002, while an EMS instructor with Houston Community College. Many of these students are still serving in our communities today. Prevost retired in 2013 as a Senior Captain, assigned to Houston Emergency Center on North Shepherd Drive.
All of these major achievements, Clarence recognizes, began with people choosing to invest their time, energy, and attention in him, and by expecting him to meet their high standards. The Quid Pro Quo spirit remains alive and well in Clarence Prevost, Jr.