Turning 90, UST Celebrates You, Mary Clare Christensen Albrecht ’51
Mary Clare Christensen Albrecht ’51 was admired by her peers while attending University of St. Thomas. She was the girl who was princess for two Mardi Gras events, a member of the Sodality, English Club, and Aquinas Honor Society. She served as class president, worked on the yearbook and was an athletic representative. Mary Clare earned a BA in English from UST. She also met her sweetheart at St. Thomas and was later known as Albin Albrecht’s ’51 wife.
“Like most of us, Mary Clare was active when she attended the University,” UST Archivist, fellow classmate and lifelong chum, Betty Fischer, said. “She is one of my best friends today.”
Happy Birthday Mary Clare
Mary Clare was celebrated during her school years, but recently, friends and family made merry over a milestone passage of rite — her birthday — with balloon-decorated cars, festive honking, and a hang-out-the-window-with-a-sign SURPRISE car parade as she turned 90 years young this year.
To protect her and her guests from the COVID virus, loved ones came up with this fun fete, which circled twice around the block. Well-wishers displayed signs and stopped to give birthday cards that included their photo and optional gifts to her as she and her 85 year old sister, Cyrilla Jones, sat under a balloon-wrapped canopy tent.
UST got into the action too by sending Mary Clare a birthday card and some lovely alumni gifts from her alma mater. “Mary Clare was a member of our first graduating class at UST, and we are so happy to celebrate her on this special occasion,” Carla E. Alsandor, senior director of Alumni Relations at UST, said. “Her quiet, steady, behind-the-scenes support of University of St. Thomas is so indicative of the class of ’51.”
Mary Clare was delighted by the fuss. “I just can’t believe it. That parade was so incredible, and it was just a blessing to see all of those people. So many of them drove from so far away!” She added “I wish it was just starting all over again.”
The Early Years Milestones and Memories
Mary Clare hails from Galveston and lived with relatives in Houston while attending UST. Al Albrecht came to Houston from Queens, New York to attend Rice University with pal Joe Courtney, who was the first alumnus to join the Basilian Congregation. But that was the year UST opened and Al’s plans to play football at Rice changed.
The Albrechts are also members of the first graduating class from University of St. Thomas. In fact, Al has the distinction of being the first person to receive a degree from UST because his name started with an “A.”
The Albrechts married soon after college and had five children –Bill, Ray, Maribeth (Anderson), Steve, and Mike. Mary Clare has 20 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren with two more on the way. The Albrechts gave their time to share their memories of St. Thomas when they wrote Chapter 1 of the University’s 50th Anniversary Book, published in 1997. Al Albrecht passed away in 1997.
“My parents went back to campus often and always talked about their experiences at St. Thomas when we were growing up,” Mike Albrecht, said. “We went to mass at UST every Sunday in those early days so they could visit with the faculty and other alums. We are so proud of both of them and blessed to have such a wonderful, strong and loving Mom.”