J. Ronald Carey '61 (business administration) knew he wanted to go to Bucknell when he attended the graduation of his personal hero, his uncle, William "Pat" Carey '50, who had served in the Army during WWII.
Carey himself joined the National Guard on his 18th birthday and remained in the Guard during his ROTC time at Bucknell. Combined with his time in the Army and the Army Reserves, Carey served 42 years in the service in Europe, Vietnam and the U.S., retiring as a brigadier general.
While serving in Paris, Carey met his future wife, Sandy Harley, at a Mexican restaurant. Their courtship was swift, and on their fifth date she was walking down the aisle. Her parents met their future son-in-law for the first time on the night before the wedding! The Careys have been married for 45 years.
After earning a doctorate in marketing from the University of Texas at Austin, Carey taught at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio where he was named an emeritus professor in 2011. Together with Sandy, a retired Navy captain and Ph.D. social psychologist, Carey has consulted with several companies, including doing the research that led to the McDonald's Happy Meal. They also have lectured in Sydney and Shanghai on project management and consumer behavior.
Carey says his proudest achievement in the military was being the program manager of the Department of Defense's largest information technology procurement. When he arrived on the job, the $1 billion program was in turmoil, but the team he assembled reorganized it into one that was always on time and on budget, an unheard of feat. For his work, Carey received two Legion of Merit awards.
"I succeeded at the task because I understood marketing thanks to Professor Neil Shiffler (former marketing department chair). I had to persuade Congress that the program deserved full funding and convince companies that it was worth bidding on," Carey says.
Last year he was inducted into the Bison Battalion Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class. He jokes that he is sure at least two of his ROTC instructors would be dumbfounded at his success, as would all his Theta Chi fraternity brothers.
The Careys live on a 365-acre ranch in the Texas Hill Country, which they turned into a wildlife preserve and ecological laboratory. The couple helps support a Bucknell scholarship and returns to Lewisburg annually to meet with their student. They are active in many charities as well. "We have been fortunate so we share it," Carey says. "It is what any good Bucknellian would do."