Trustee and Trusted Friend: Trailblazing Businessman and Philanthropist Carlos Alvarez Dies

Alvarez Scholars with Carlos Alvarez

Trustee Carlos Alvarez, front center, seated with his family, the 2024 class of Alvarez scholars and President Doug Hicks.

Davidson College Trustee Carlos Alvarez, whose journey from immigrant small businessman to beer industry icon shaped his historic generosity to Davidson College and its international students, died Monday night in his sleep at his home in San Antonio, Texas. He was 73. 

“Carlos personified the ideal that, if life rewards you with success, then you give back,” said Davidson College President Doug Hicks. “He saw, through his daughter’s college experience, Davidson’s ability to transform lives, and he knew firsthand the obstacles to succeeding in an unfamiliar land. He ensured that international students at Davidson College would have the support that would open to them the kinds of opportunities that our nation afforded him.” 

Alvarez’s journey is legendary in the beer industry. He grew up in Acapulco, Mexico, where his father was a beer distributor, and he learned the basics of business from working on one of his dad’s trucks. 

“While everyone is there, out there at the beach, by the pool,” Alvarez told a Texas television station in 2021, “that was torture.” 

In 1986, he and his wife and daughters emigrated to Texas, where he was instrumental in introducing Corona Extra beer into the United States. He established his own company, The Gambrinus Company, and became the official importer for Corona. Eleven years later, it was the No. 1 imported beer in the nation—widely regarded as the most spectacular brand success story in contemporary brewing history. He also bought the struggling Spoetzl brewery in Shiner, Texas, that produced Shiner beer and strengthened the craft brewer until it was distributed in all 50 states. 

Alvarez’s daughter, Malú, graduated from Davidson in 2002, and he devoted his energy to supporting the college from her first day on campus. His family’s name is etched on the Alvarez College Union, for which he and his wife, Malú, provided the signature renovation gift. 

he Alvarez Family on campus to meet with their scholarship recipients. (l-r) Malú Alvarez '02, Malú Alvarez, Carlos Alvarez holding baby Charlie, Charlie's mom Carla Alvarez Brozovich and John Brozovich

The Alvarez Family on campus to meet with their scholarship recipients. (l-r) Malú Alvarez '02, Malú Alvarez, Carlos Alvarez holding baby Charlie, Charlie's mom Carla Alvarez Brozovich and John Brozovich.

They also created the Alvarez Scholars Program, the Alvarez Access Fund and the Alvarez Guarantee Fund, distinguishing Davidson among colleges and universities for such comprehensive support of international students. His backing ensured that international students enjoyed the support they needed for equal access to opportunities such off-campus programs, internships and career searches. The international student population at Davidson has doubled since his efforts began. 

“The staff and resources … will help [international] students seize and weave together those experiences, to stand out as candidates for a dream job or grad school," he said in 2018. "It just takes a little more creativity and a little more work than the typical domestic student."

It was common during Alvarez’s campus visits to see him outside, sitting with one of the Alvarez Scholars, visibly delighted in learning of their discoveries and explorations. His most recent visit to campus, in January, was for a visit with those students. 

“He was at our house that evening,” Hicks said, “talking about the Alvarez Scholars and about the national awards that Shiner had won. You could see the joyfulness in him, that he had reached this place in life where he could help these students toward lives where they would go and solve big problems.” 

Alvarez was in his second term as a Davidson College trustee and had previously served on the Parents Council.

The Carlos Alvarez College of Business, at the University of Texas at San Antonio, reflects his faith in, and support for, education. He also was a member of the Chancellor’s Circle for the University of Texas system. 

In addition to Davidson, Alvarez served on the boards of: National Public Radio, Frost Bank, The Bullock Texas State History Museum, St. Mary’s Hall, the World Affairs Council of America, in Washington, D.C., the Foreign Policy Association, in New York, and the World Affairs Council of San Antonio, where he previously was chair. He was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Freedom and was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame. Alvarez received a degree in biochemical engineering from the Monterrey Institute of Technology, in Monterrey, Mexico. 

A memorial service is planned for Friday morning, April 19, at St. Anthony de Padua Catholic Church. 


  • April 10, 2024