Alumni Profile: Bailey J. St. Clair, B.S. ’61
It was May 1961 when Bailey J. St. Clair, B.S. ’61, got the letter from Uncle Sam. St. Clair, a U.S. Air Force reservist, was in the midst of final exams at the University of Baltimore and was looking forward to graduating with his bachelor’s degree in business just a month later.
But it was not to be, despite the assurances he’d received from the recruiter who had signed him up in April that he would not be called for active duty until the summer.
“I asked him, ‘Are you sure?’” St. Clair recalls of the long-ago conversation. “‘Oh no,’ the recruiter replied. ‘You won’t be called until July or August.’”
Nonetheless, on June 8, St. Clair found himself unpacking his bags at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, while back in Baltimore the following week, his fellow members of the class of 1961 were lining up at the Lyric Opera House for the commencement procession.
St. Clair was so unhappy about missing his graduation that he threatened not to report to duty until an uncle persuaded him otherwise. Instead, his mother and father attended the graduation ceremony and picked up his diploma for him.
“I have the diploma, but I wanted to walk across the stage.”
Now, 50 years later, St. Clair, 72, is a married father and grandfather who lives in Baltimore County—and he’s finally going to fulfill his dream.
“I have the diploma, but I wanted to walk across the stage,” says St. Clair, who, on May 15, did just that when he joined the spring 2011 University of Baltimore graduates at the Patricia and Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric. University officials agreed last year to his request to walk in the graduation ceremony.
The now-retired St. Clair had a long career in business, the last 24 years of which he served as a pharmaceutical drug representative for Bristol-Myers Squibb. Having grown up in the city neighborhood of Hampden, he credits his mother, a nurse, with encouraging him to earn a college degree. “I could never have had the career I did without that college degree,” he says.