Two Texas A&M business graduates are among the seven recipients of the 2011 Distinguished Alumnus Award announced recently by The Association of Former Students. Established in 1962, the Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of Texas A&M.

Clifton J. “Clif” Bolner ’49 of San Antonio received a business degree.

Gerald L. Ray ’54 of Dallas received a finance degree.

Other Aggies being honored this year are Dan A. Hughes ’51 of Beeville, Texas; Dr. Joe E. West; Harold L. Adams ’61; John E. Bethancourt ’74. J. Wayne Stark ’39 (posthumously).

“While alumni of other universities have certainly had a profound impact on their alma mater and on the greater society, we are very proud to recognize those former students that have stood out both within the Aggie family and in their communities, states, and nations,” said Texas A&M President Dr. R. Bowen Loftin ’71. “They exemplify what makes Texas A&M University unique — a rich history and traditions and a culture that instills life-long values such as leadership and selfless service in our students. Through their actions, these Distinguished Alumni represent the very best of what it means to truly live the Aggie Spirit.”

Clifton J. “Clif” Bolner, Class of 1949

Clifton J. “Clif” Bolner graduated from Texas A&M with a bachelor’s degree in business. He was a distinguished student for four years, a member of the Corps of Cadets, executive officer of the Texas Aggie Band and a distinguished military graduate.

Clifton J. “Clif” Bolner ’49

After graduation, Bolner was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and served during the Korean War. After six years as a partner in the family grocery store, he founded and became president and CEO of Bolner’s Fiesta Products, a San Antonio company manufacturing and distributing food seasoning products worldwide. In 1979, he was named U.S. Grocery Supplier of the Year.

Bolner was awarded the Archbishop Francis J. Furey Outstanding Award Medal in 1969, and in 1979, was the first recipient of the Central Catholic High School Distinguished Alumni Award. In 1982, he was the recipient of the National Conference of Christians and Jews Award. In 2004, he was named an Outstanding Alumnus of A&M’s Mays Business School. He has endowed four scholarships at A&M and is a life member of Sterling Evans Library and a charter member of Texas A&M’s Chancellor’s Circle and of The Association of Former Students Century Club. He is also a member of the 12th Man Foundation, the Texas A&M Foundation Legacy Society, the San Antonio A&M Club and has served as class agent for the Class of 1949 for several years.

Bolner has served many charitable organizations in the San Antonio area. He served as president of the Witte Museum Board, the San Antonio Museum Association and the San Antonio Symphony Society, and served on the boards of the San Antonio Area Foundation, the Cancer Therapy Research Center, the San Antonio Fiesta Commission and many others. He is active in his church, Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, and is a past president of the Parish Council. The 2011 Humanitarian Award given by Catholic Charities was awarded to Mr. Bolner this year.

Four of his seven children and three grandchildren have graduated from Texas A&M and another granddaughter is a current student.

Gerald L. Ray, Class of 1954

Gerald L. Ray graduated from Texas A&M with a bachelor’s degree in finance. He was a member of the Corps of Cadets and served after graduation as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force and later the U.S. Air Force Reserves. He received his M.B.A. in 1959 from The Wharton School of Finance.

Gerald L. Ray '54
Gerald L. Ray ’54

He first worked for Sanders & Co. and then was vice president of Zale Corp. before founding his own firm, Gerald L. Ray Investment Advisor, in 1976. The following year he founded Gerald L. Ray and Associates Inc. (later Gerald L. Ray & Associates, Ltd.). Ray remains chairman of that company, which has become one of the Southwest’s most respected investment firms. He is a past chairman of the National Conference for Investment Analysts and a member of the Investment Company Institute and the Association for Investment Management and Research.

Ray has a long history of supporting Texas A&M. He has endowed the Gerald L. Ray ’54 Pillars of Texas A&M, multiple scholarships, a Foundation Excellence Award for minority or economically disadvantaged students, and the Department of Finance Kupfer Distinguished Executive Award. He has been a major contributor to the Aggies on Wall Street Program, which brings A&M’s best and brightest to the center of the financial world and has resulted in scores of Aggies succeeding in Wall Street careers.

In honoring Mr. Ray’s mother and father, he chose to name an auditorium at Mays Business School in their honor.

He and his wife, Helaine, have two children and five grandchildren.

The Association of Former Students will further honor all recipients of this award during its annual Distinguished Alumni Gala on Oct. 14. In addition, the 2011 recipients will be hosted for dinner by Loftin on Oct. 13 and recognized during the Texas A&M football game against Baylor on Oct. 15.

For more information

For more information about the Distinguished Alumnus Award, visit