William Robert (Bob) Clay
William Robert (Bob) Clay was born in Old Hickory, Tenn., and grew up in the greater Nashville area. In 1950 he graduated from Goodlettsville High School where he played football and was president of his senior class. Clay graduated cum laude from the Vanderbilt School of Engineering in 1954 with a bachelor of engineering degree.
Clay began his career with the DuPont Co. in 1954, and except for a two-year period of service as a lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers, he worked for DuPont until his retirement in December 1990.
From 1958 to1968, he was involved in the development of electrical insulating materials made with Nomex®, a strong, heat-resistant material. He won the Marketers’ Award at the 1979 Electrical/Electronic Insulation Conference in recognition of his accomplishments with the successful development and marketing of Nomex paper. In 1978 he was named director of the industrial fibers division.
During the last 10 years of his career, he served on 13 different subsidiary or joint-venture boards. Most of that time he was either chairman of DuPont in Geneva with responsibility for Europe, the Middle East and Africa or vice president, international, with responsibility for Latin America and Asia Pacific. He was vice president, imaging systems, when he retired.
Clay’s charitable and nonprofit activities include serving on the University of South Carolina Advisory Board for International Business, the Council of the Americas Board of Directors, the National Foreign Trade Council, and the Advisory Group on Capital Development for Mexico. He also chaired a capital campaign to build a Latin American community center in Wilmington, Del. He served on the board for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and was chairman of the board from 2001 through 2003. He also served on the vestry of Christ Episcopal Church in Bradenton, Fla.
Clay has been a consistent contributor to Vanderbilt for the past 50 years. He was chair for the class of 1954’s 45th reunion. In 2004 he established the W. Robert Clay Scholarship which provides funding for deserving undergraduate students of engineering. This fund is also the beneficiary of a charitable remainder unitrust established in 1999 and a charitable gift annuity established in 2006 through Vanderbilt’s Office of Planned Giving.
Clay and his wife, Judith Angstadt Clay, live in Bradenton, Fla. They have five children, seven grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.