For 121 years, notable St. Thomas graduates have personified the Basilian credo Teach Me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge. The most acclaimed 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 will elevate five transformative leaders who have embraced the St. Thomas spirit at its best. The 16th Hall of Honor event takes 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, Colonel Timothy DeWayne Gatlin ‘95, William Ferdinand Joplin ‘54, and the Most Reverend George Arthur Sheltz ‘63. The 2021recipients reflect the broad and deep domain of a St. Thomas education and experience.
This is the first in a series.
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. He matched a supple approach with intent action and intense engagement to facilitate progress and changes in ways often subtle yet significant, including nearly 50 years mentoring generations of participants in the Christian Youth Organization (CYO).
Ray Bourgeois is a certified G.I.A jeweler and buyer for Wolf’s Department Store in the historic Third Ward for a half-century where he has worked since he was 12 years old. The mainstay on Dowling St. sits among a series of state historical markers, a testament to a distant past as well as a still-relevant future as an important center of African American-owned businesses and a hub for Black culture. The owner/president of Bushwar Enterprises Real Estate Management has remained a vital community activist serving on the boards of the Houston Urban League; the Houston Business and Development, Inc; the Third Ward Redevelopment Council; and Texas Southern University Athletics.
Consistent with such intense loyalty to heritage, Bourgeois was an influential and amplified voice in numerous 2020 get-out-the-vote initiatives. His passion project was a grassroots civic engagement to inspire African-Americans to register and cast a ballot in November.
The 1975 graduate from Xavier University in New Orleans later earned his Master’s in chemistry and was an enthusiastic participant in the University’s 2011 commemoration of the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The celebration brought a landmark visit from President Barack Obama, the first-ever appearance to the then 86-year-old campus by a sitting U.S. president.
Bourgeois shares distinction with Langston Hughes, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King Sr., Walter E. Massey, and Charles Bolden as lifetime members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Bourgeois later served Xavier’s Alumni Association, and his leadership roles extend to the Knights of Columbus, Council 803; and the Knights of Peter Claver, Founding Council 238.
Bourgeois has dedicated his life to giving back both to the city of Houston and the alma mater that he respects and cherishes. His exemplary service to both was a dedication to enhancing the presence and experiences of diversity across the St. Thomas family: students, faculty, administration, and alumni. Such selflessness helps create an understanding for inclusion that recognizes the dignity of every member, welcomes each one fully, treasures their gifts as a reflection of God, supports them, and shares their ideals.
Catholic. Basilian. Teaching Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge since 1900.
Congrats, Raybo! This honor is long overdue. Your Class of 1970 buddies are so proud of you, and grateful for your many contributions and example as a caring mentor for so many youth! –Nick