Raised by his mother in the heart of Pittsburgh, Nicholas St. George ’60, J.D. ’65 was the first in his family to attend college. It brought tears to her eyes when he was accepted.
“I recognized early in life that most people that were successful went to college,” says St. George.
“I was fortunate to have been offered scholarships from several schools,” he says, “but before I had made a decision I got a telephone call from the track and football coaches at William and Mary to come down for a visit and consider a possibility of a scholarship.” In high school St. George was a star athlete and had lettered in five sports. Since his brother was in the Navy and living in nearby Norfolk, Va., he decided to make the trip.
- Watch the tribute video created for Nicholas St. George ’60, J.D. ’65 below
“I went from not knowing the College to falling in love with it,” he says. “When I got home I received a Western Union message saying I got a full athletic/academic track scholarship with a job in the cafeteria.”
After visiting the College, St. George knew that’s where he wanted to be. “I was taken by the place … the South and the culture. Once I got to William and Mary it was even better. It led to many opportunities in my lifetime.” He’s never left the South since.
His love of the South led him to become a member of the Kappa Alpha order, where he served as president. In addition to running track, he was also in ROTC.
When St. George graduated with a degree in economics, he took a job with General Electric before joining the Army in Fort Knox, Ky., where he served two years as an Army Airborne officer. In 1963, he returned to the College to attend law school, serving as president of the Student Bar Association. He also returned to the King’s Arms, where he had worked as an undergrad.
After law school, he practiced for one year with Virginia National Bank in the trust department until one day he received a call from Raymond “Chip” Mason ’59, L.H.D. ’98, who had started the investment banking firm Mason and Company, offering him an opportunity.
“I didn’t know anything about investment banking, but I wanted to get an experience in something I had never done,” says St. George. “It opened up a whole new life and I knew then that I would never go back to practicing law because I fell in love with investment banking.”
He stayed with the company, which merged to become Legg Mason in 1972, for 12 years.
“At the time, I was on the board of Oakwood Homes, a manufactured housing company, when the president, a good friend, perished in a plane crash in 1979,” says St. George. The board offered him the CEO position, and St. George decided to make another career move.
“As an investment banker, you are giving a lot of CEOs advice,” he says. He drew on that experience while at Oakwood Homes, a company with $20 million in sales when he arrived, which reached $1.6 billion in sales and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange when he left in 1999.
St. George has been a member of the Legg Mason board for many years, as well as countless other business and civic boards. Now that he’s retired and living in Florida with his wife, Eugenia, he has more time to see his sons, Blane and Nicholas, and his five grandchildren. However, he remains active with the William and Mary community, serving on the President’s Council, the Chancellor’s Circle and as a trustee for the Endowment Association. In the past, he has served as president of the William and Mary Law School’s board of trustees, as well as the College’s National Campaign Steering Committee.
Currently he serves on the Mason School of Business board and is helping raise funds for his 50th Reunion in April 2010. “It’s critical right now that we get alumni involved with the College,” he says. “This medallion is a great honor and it’s very humbling. I am not just receiving this award for myself, but for all the people who have given back to William and Mary.
“I have accomplished much more than I ever dreamt of … I am standing on the shoulders of many, many people,” says St. George. “Without them I would never have experienced that type of success.”
Photo by Nu visions in Photography
2010 Alumni Medallions
Waverly M. Cole ’50 | W. Samuel Sadler ’64, M.Ed. ’71
Nicholas St. George ’60, J.D. ’65 | Earl L. Young ’59