For 121 years, notable St. Thomas graduates have personified the Basilian credo Teach Me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge. The most prestigious former scholars with exceptional contributions to their professions and communities are saluted with the school’s highest alumni distinction.
On January 23, the Eagle Family elevated five transformative leaders who have embraced the St. Thomas spirit at its best. The 16th Hall of Honor event took place as a socially distanced, invitation only celebration in Cemo Auditorium.
Recognized for their long-lasting, significant impacts far beyond the St. Thomas campus are Raymond Bourgeois ‘70, Albert William Clay ‘61, Lt. Colonel Timothy DeWayne Gatlin ‘95, William Ferdinand Joplin ‘54, and the Most Reverend George Arthur Sheltz ‘63. The 2020 recipients reflect the broad and deep domain of a St. Thomas education and experience.
Raymond Bourgeois ‘70
The first Black president of the St. Thomas Alumni Association has invested countless hours and priceless contributions over four decades living out the Basilian mission in his daily life. His supple approach with intent action and intense engagement facilitated progress and changes in ways often subtle yet significant, including nearly 50 years mentoring generations of participants in the Christian Youth Organization (CYO).
Bourgeois is a certified G.I.A jeweler and buyer for Wolf’s Department Store, a mainstay in the historic Third Ward for a half-century, and the owner/president of Bushwar Enterprises Real Estate Management. He has tirelessly served as a board member for the Houston Urban League; the Houston Business and Development, Inc; the Third Ward Redevelopment Council; the Xavier University Alumni Association; Texas Southern University Athletics; the Boy Scouts of America, Houston area. He’s a member of the Knights of Columbus, Council 803; the Knights of Peter Claver, Founding Council 238; and a lifetime member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.
Albert William Clay ‘61
The founder of Clay Development & Construction pioneered the profound re-emergence of the city’s commercial real estate development with his son Robert. Their services include designing, engineering, architectural, and site planning. As recently as 2019, the company’s aggressive industrial speculation accounted for 10 percent of the projects going up in the greater Houston region.
Throughout his acclaimed professional success, Al Clay advocated for Catholic education and the growing needs of St. Thomas to further its objectives. In 2015, he and his wife Dona assured legacy distinction with the largest leadership gift in the school’s chronicle, donating $10 million to the 4500Forever capital campaign. Dona and Al’s remarkable generosity resulted in the naming of Clay-Storey Hall on the St. Thomas main campus. The honor unites the Clays with former St. Thomas president Fr. Kevin Storey, CSB, the current Superior General of the Congregation of St. Basil.
Lt. Colonel Timothy DeWayne Gatlin ‘95
Throughout his career in the United States Army, Lt. Colonel Gatlin has embodied a selfless duty and determination with a lifelong commitment to mission.
The commander of 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment was named to the 2016-17 White House Fellows, one of America’s most prestigious programs for leadership and public service. The position is reserved for select individuals who typically spend a year working as a full-time, paid Fellow to senior White House staff, Cabinet Secretaries, and other top-ranking government officials.
Lt. Colonel Gatlin owns more than two decades of experience in the integration and synchronization of combat arms operations. He has steadily risen through the ranks of command since receiving his Bachelor of Science in Economics from West Point in 1999. The Lt. Colonel’s decorations include the Bronze Star Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal. He also received his Masters in Social Organizational Psychology and Leadership from Columbia University in 2010.
William Ferdinand Joplin ‘54
A prominent presence in Houston’s energy industry and champion philanthropist, Bill Joplin began his exploits partnering in his family’s Oil & Gas Supply Company. He and brother John ‘42 then founded, operated, and sold Oil & Gas Manufacturing Co., Bush Manufacturing Co., Turbines Hispano Ogasco, Inc., and Sound Optics Systems, Inc. In 1974, they acquired Hutchison-Hayes International, Inc., later Hutchison-Hayes Separation, which was successfully sold in 2008.
In November 2014, his identity was a mystery until emerging from the shadows to provide another raging wave of momentum for 4500Forever. The staggering $6 million matching gift from Joplin and his wife Jane ignited contributions of more than $14 million during 11 weeks. The commitment assured the St. Thomas ascent for the next generations of scholars to study and dream.
The Basilian Fathers and the St. Thomas Board of Directors acknowledge the Joplin’s life-changing gifts by naming the expanded St. Thomas footprint as the Jane and Bill Joplin Campus.
Most Reverend George Arthur Sheltz ‘63
The Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese Galveston-Houston since 2012 was ordained for the priesthood in May 1971. He then served as the spiritual shepherd at Assumption Church, the Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral, St. Vincent de Paul Church, Christ the Redeemer Church, Prince of Peace Church, and St. Anthony of Padua Church.
In 2000, Pope John Paul II named Bishop Sheltz a prelate of honor with the title of monsignor. Since 2010, he has served as vicar general, chancellor, and moderator of the curia, overseeing the administrative operations of the largest Roman Catholic diocese in Texas and the 5th largest in the United States.
The St. Thomas Hall of Honor was founded in 1975 by Fr. James Wilson, CSB, and a committee of seven dedicated alumni chaired by John Fauntleroy ‘53.
Since the inaugural induction class in 1976, the exclusive group of acclaimed Eagles includes former St. Thomas principals Fr. Carl Allnoch, CSB and Fr. Thomas O’Rourke, CSB; the Honorable William Archer, Jr. ‘45; World Golf Hall of Famer and Masters champion Jackie Burke ‘40; distinguished Houston business executive and philanthropist Michael Cemo ‘63; the Honorable George Cire ’40; pioneering surgeon Dr. Ernest Cronin ‘64; Pulitzer Prize winner William Goetzmann, Ph.D. ‘48; the Honorable James McConn ‘44 and his brothers John ‘41, Dr. Robert ‘42, and Thomas ‘51; Congressional Medal of Honor recipient David McNerney ‘49; Most Rev. Vincent Rizzotto ‘49, retired Auxiliary Bishop of Galveston-Houston; the Honorable George Strake, Jr. ‘53; and Grammy Award winner Steve Tyrell ‘63.
Among the most recent honorees was Sgt. Charles Kitowski ‘94, who was killed in 2007 after an improvised bomb detonated near his vehicle in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. He was 31-years-old.
Catholic. Basilian. Teaching Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge since 1900.