100 Years of Good Work – $10,000 Chevron Gift Honors SMC Alumnus Clay McElroy ’34

Clay McElroy blows out candles on a 100th birthday cake during a celebration in Texas, as Gary Luquette, president of Chevron North America, and Vic Revenko, president of the Chevron Retirees Association urge him on. Donation to School of Economics and Business Administration SMC Graduate's Honor

Birthdays are cause for celebration, usually involving cake, candles, gifts and friends. That’s what it was like for Clay McElroy ’34, too, when he celebrated his birthday on April 10. The only difference was that he was turning 100.

When McElroy enrolled at Saint Mary’s College in 1930, during its first few years in Moraga, he stepped onto a campus that seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere, with only Galileo and Dante Halls framing the Chapel. From his home in Oakland, he commuted to and from the College every day by streetcar and train. “I would take the red train down to Broadway, then the streetcar to the train station,” he recalls.

At Saint Mary’s, McElroy was involved with the Economics Club and served as student body president. Immediately after graduating with a degree in economics, he went to work for the Standard Oil Company, which is now Chevron. It was the middle of the Depression, and McElroy remembers that his starting salary was $55 a month. He went on to work at Chevron for 40 years in 11 different locations, from Salt Lake City to Houston, New Orleans and Venezuela, before his retirement in 1975.

Chevron was so grateful for McElroy’s long service that it celebrated his birthday earlier this spring with a $10,000 donation in his honor to the School of Economics and Business Administration (SEBA). The check was presented at a ceremony in the Soda Center led by Alumni Association President David Johnson '84.

Clay McElroy at 100 McElroy as an SMC student“We just wanted to celebrate Clay’s 100th birthday and his legacy with both Saint Mary’s and Chevron,” said Steve Woodhead, the company’s manager of university affairs, who presented the check along with Larry Oliver MBA ’00, Chevron’s general manager of business and internal services.

The relationship between Chevron and Saint Mary’s doesn’t end with McElroy. The company continues to interview Saint Mary’s students for positions and, some of its executives are involved on SEBA’s advisory board and in Advancement for the school.

Accepting the check was SEBA Dean Zhan Li. “The generous gift from Chevron will support the School of Economics and Business Administration in terms of student scholarships and faculty research and development,” Li said. “Our partnership with Chevron is strong and mutually beneficial.”

Although McElroy, who now lives in New Braunfels, Texas, hasn’t been back to the growing campus since 1946, he keeps up his relationship with Saint Mary’s in small ways and continues to donate to the school.

Celebrating a century of life, McElroy looks back on his accomplishments at Chevron as well as his time at Saint Mary’s, saying, “When you get to be 100 years old, you kind of reflect in a different way.”

By Jazo Moises ’13