Robert McEniry (CBHS ’59) honored as 2013 Distinguished Alumnus

Robert McEniry (CBHS ’59) honored as 2013 Distinguished Alumnus

Brother Chris Englert, F.S.C., CBHS president (left), and Buddy Adams, CBHS ’57 (right), past president of the Christian Brothers High School Alumni Association, congratulate Robert McEniry (CBHS ’59) on his selection as the 2013 CBHS Distinguished Alumnus.


    Christian Brothers High School honored Robert G. McEniry (CBHS Class of 1959) as its 2013 Distinguished Alumnus during the October 24 induction ceremony in Heffernan Hall for 58 new members of the National Honor Society.

    Each year since 1993, the Christian Brothers High School Alumni Association has honored one of its thousands of alumni as Distinguished Alumnus.

     “The Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest honor the Association can give,” said Lawrence H. “Buddy” Adams (CBHS ’57), past president of the CBHS Alumni Association. “The guidelines for the award require that the recipient should be named based on his significant and broad accomplishments in business or professional life, which reflect distinction upon himself and thus upon CBHS.”

    There are more than 10,600 living alumni from CBHS, which was founded in 1871. Over the years the Alumni Association has honored men from a variety of vocations, who have lived their lives of distinction in a variety of ways.

    This year’s recipient, Robert G. McEniry is Chairman of nexAir, a 73-year multigenerational company with headquarters in Memphis. nexAir, founded in 1940 as Standard Welders Supply, was purchased by his father in 1950. McEniry worked summers at the company during high school and college. He graduated from Christian Brothers High School in 1959 when the school was still on Parkway. Graduating from Vanderbilt University, McEniry formally joined the company in 1963. He became President of the company in July 1971 and Chairman/CEO in 1996. In his leadership role, McEniry has guided the company and growth, which has included acquisitions, mergers, start-up ventures, and joint ventures. During his 50 years with the company, revenues have grown from the $1 million to over $150 million. Now in a third generation of leadership, nexAir is led by his son Kevin McEniry, who is CEO, a 1989 CBHS graduate. McEniry has remained as chairman.

    One of the hallmarks of the CBHS Distinguished Alumnus Award is that it is given not just based on success in business, but also on service to church and community. McEniry has served on the Board of United Way where he was Chairman of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society. He is a 25-year member of the Memphis Rotary Club, serving as Chairman of the International Student Exchange Program. He is also Trustee and Chairman of the Board of Junior Achievement of Greater Memphis. He is a Board Member of Memphis Minority Business Council where he was part of a pilot program linking Minority Businessmen with successful Business leaders. Finally, McEniry is a Board of Trustees member of CBU and in May finished a three-year term as Chairman.

    Honors include his induction into the Christian Brothers High School Hall of Fame in 2008 and induction into the Society of Entrepreneurs in 2012.

    He has been married to Paula McEniry for 47 years and they have two children, Kevin McEniry and Mary Silva, and eight grandchildren.

    In accepting the award, McEniry reflected on the great influence and importance that CBHS has meant, and still means, in his life.

    “A lot has changed in Memphis during my lifetime,” said McEniry. “Fortunately, one of the mainstays in our community has been the impact of the Christian Brothers who came to Memphis 142 years ago.”

    “The heritage of the Christian Brothers education is one where men like Brothers Chris Englert and Joel McGraw give their lives to teaching. Sadly, men no longer enter this vocation in significant numbers. Rather than lament over this fact, maybe it can be viewed as an opportunity for you, as it has been for me. I hope you (National Honor Society inductees) will give back with your time, talent, and treasure to keep this legacy for others to benefit in the future as you have today.”   

    Following the address by McEniry, 58 CBHS seniors (Class of 2014) were inducted into the Brother J. Stephen O’Malley Chapter of the National Honor Society.