Robert Clayton Lanier was born on March 10, 1925, and grew up in the oil-patch suburb of Baytown, Tex. He served in the Navy in World War II and graduated from the University of New Mexico. He earned his law degree from the University of Texas, then practiced law at the powerful Houston firm Baker & Botts for a decade before switching to banking and ultimately becoming a major real-estate developer.
Before he was elected mayor, he was chairman of the Texas Highway Commission. He later headed the annual Lanier Public Policy Conference at the University of Houston.
Towering and lanky at 6-foot-4, Mr. Lanier was a wealthy developer when he defeated Mayor Kathryn J. Whitmire, a 10-year incumbent, in a primary and then won a tough general-election race that focused on the city’s spiraling crime rate.
Mr. Lanier was married three times. According to a Houston funeral home, his survivors include his wife, Elyse; five sons; three daughters; and 11 grandchildren.
His children were Robert Clayton Lanier, Jr. and his wife Donna, John Frederic Lanier, Elizabeth Lanier Campbell, Susan Holly Lanier, Scott Augustus Lanier, Courtney Lanier Sarofim and her husband Christopher, and Kevin Scott Robins and his wife Sara. In addition, he is survived by his grandchildren Robert Clayton Lanier III, Carlton Thomas Lanier, Brent Lanier Campbell, Judith Ann Lanier, Mary Jessica Lanier, Robert Mitchell Lanier, Gillian Stude Sarofim, Louisa Lanier Sarofim, Fayez Shalaby Sarofim II, Eva Elyse Robins and Rhett Ezekiel Robins.