Alvin N. Puryear

Alvin N. Puryear, PhD passed away on April 21, 2022 at the age of 85 at the Hospice House of Williamsburg. Dr. Puryear was a university educator; a church, civic and community leader; a distinguished alumni leader at Yale University; and a management and governance expert. Most of all, Dr. Puryear was a devoted husband who would have celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary later this year with his beloved wife Catherine W. Puryear, PhD, who preceded him in death on October 3, 2021. He was also a proud father and grandfather to his three daughters and two granddaughters.

Dr. Puryear was born in Fayetteville, NC on April 6, 1937, to Byron Puryear, a building contractor, and Gladys Bizzell Puryear, an elementary school teacher. His family moved between Winston-Salem, NC and Hampton, VA, where he attended three racially segregated public schools. He graduated from George P. Phenix High School in Hampton, where he was an outstanding student athlete. He was class Valedictorian, Captain of the basketball team, Captain of the football team, and an All-State Tackle his senior year.

Dr. Puryear accepted a scholarship to Yale University after a Yale alumnus made the football coach aware of his academic and athletic accomplishments. However, instead of matriculating at Yale University directly from high school, he decided to enroll at Hampton Institute to enhance his preparation, having been educated in segregated public schools. In September 1956, he entered Yale University as a Freshman. He earned All-Ivy honors as a football player, and earned his BA degree as an Honors Graduate in Sociology.

Football remained an important part of his life. As a fifth-year senior, he was asked by the coaching staff at Yale University to serve as Graduate Assistant Football Coach. He also played for two semi-pro football teams in Connecticut and Massachusetts, while still in college. Upon graduation he was offered a contract by the New York Titans (now New York Jets). He ultimately chose not to pursue a football career in favor of continuing his education, however while a graduate student in New York City, he was a part-time football coach at Riverdale Country School. He, along with legendary head coach Frank Bertino, led the team to an undefeated streak of 51 games during Dr. Puryear’s five years with the team.

Following his graduation from Yale University in 1960, Dr. Puryear attended the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University, where he earned MBA and PhD degrees in Finance and was a Samuel Bronfman Fellow and a John Hay Whitney Fellow.

In 1962, while attaining his PhD degree at Columbia, Dr. Puryear married Catherine Wiggins and they had three daughters, Pamela (1963), Susan (1971) and Karen (1975). Along with his wife, he took an active role in their education and was proud when they attended Yale University and obtained advanced degrees from Harvard and Stanford Universities. He was equally devoted to his two granddaughters, Mykah and Tyla. He would travel to Massachusetts for their dance recitals and school Grandparents Day, and was able to attend both of their high school graduations. He was filled with pride and joy to see them matriculate at Yale University and Wellesley College.

After completing his education, Dr. Puryear spent three years in the private sector at Mobil Corporation (now Exxon Mobil) and Allied Chemical Corporation. He then transitioned to academia and joined the faculty of the Graduate Business School at Rutgers University, later moving to the Business School of Bernard Baruch College of the City University of New York (CUNY), where he spent the remainder of his academic career until his retirement in 2006.