Born in Port Arthur, Texas
Jerry McAfee was born in Port Arthur, Texas. He graduated in chemical engineering from the University of Texas in 1937, and earned his doctorate in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1940.
During World War II he was engaged in the design and start-up of aviation gasoline plants as an engineer with Universal Oil Products Company, Chicago. McAfee began his career with Gulf Oil at its Port Arthur refinery in 1945. Over the years, he was active in a number of technical and petroleum industry organizations.
He was president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 1960, after several years as a director, and was a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and a recipient of its Founders Award. He was one of three U.S. representatives to the Permanent Council of the World Petroleum Congress from 1955 to 1964, and from 1961 through 1963 he served as a member of the Advisory Board of the American Chemical Society's Petroleum Research Fund.
In 1963 he received a Certificate of Appreciation from the American Petroleum Institute's Division of Refining in recognition of his work over several years in air and water conservation. McAfee was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1967, and in 1981 he received the Distinguished Service Award of the Texas Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.
In 1984, he was awarded the American Petroleum Institute's Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement. In addition to various Gulf-related companies, McAfee served as a director of McDonnell Douglas Corporation, Mellon Bank, The Steel Company of Canada, and the Bank of Nova Scotia.
Jerry McAfee retired in 1981 as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Gulf Oil Corporation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, having served in that capacity for the last six years of his 36-year career with Gulf.
He is a member of the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Notable People Hall of Fame.