A silver lining to the passing of Cloud Cray
cloud cray alum

From left, Cloud Cray's daughters Cathy Scroggs and Karen Seaberg and granddaughter Lori Mingus with Roger Cerne at the Cray Center dedication.

Cloud Cray '43 (1922-2019) helped make sure future generations of Case students could follow his path to success.

Longtime Case supporter and entrepreneurship champion Cloud “Bud” Cray Jr. ’43 passed away March 8 at age 96, only months after funding a new center for business creation at Sears think[box].cloud cray alum

The Cray Center for Venture Creation, dedicated October 19, 2018, assures that Cray will influence future generations of innovators and business founders at his alma mater. The Kansas native committed $2 million to building the Cray Center and another $2 million toward an endowment that will fund its operations.

He was unable to attend the dedication but was represented by one of his granddaughters and two of his daughters, including Karen Seaberg, who succeeded her father as chair of the board of the family business.

“He felt that he got a great education at Case,” said Roger Cerne ’63, executive advisor in the Office of Development and External Affairs of the Case School of Engineering. Cerne has known Cray for years and helped introduce him to the modern campus and the vision for Sears think[box], which grew from a maker space into a multi-faceted innovation center.

“The fact that the school was embracing entrepreneurship, he thought that was extremely important,” Cerne said.

cloud cray alumCray earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at the Case School of Applied Science, where he pledged Sigma Alpha Epsilon. The class of 1943 was relatively small but mighty, Cerne noted. It included Ken Horsburgh and George Veale, Tinkham’s brother.

At Case, Cloud met his wife, Sally, a Flora Mather College student. They married in 1944, the same year he followed many of his classmates into the Army to fight World War II.

cloud cray alumAfter his military service, Cray worked for Dow Chemical for a decade before going home to Atchison, Kansas, to join the family business. Cloud Cray Sr. founded Midwest Solvents Company, a distillery, in 1941. His son built it into one of the nation’s leading suppliers of distilled spirits and specialty wheat proteins and starches.

Cloud Cray succeeded his father as president of the company and became chairman and CEO. In 2015, he retired from the board of directors after 68 years at the company, now known as MGP Ingredients. Shortly before, he made his first $2 million contribution to Sears think[box].

The Cray Center spans the newly finished sixth floor, a hushed, carpeted expanse that resembles a C-suite, in contrast to the workshops of the lower floors. It includes flexible office spaces, co-working spaces and offices for groups that support entrepreneurs—like CWRU LaunchNet, the IP Venture Clinic and SCORE. The idea being that student innovators will ascend from the lower floors to be launched from the Cray Center as business founders.

“Entrepreneurs are the backbone of this nation,” Cray said at the time of the dedication. “They represent people who desire to build companies with new ideas and innovations, offer employment to countless numbers of skilled workers and add to the welfare of this great country. The Cray Center for Venture Creation at Case Western Reserve University is my way of paving the way for Case students to have the opportunity that I have had in my career.”