THE TOM LEA INSTITUTE
The first twelve $100,000 donors are designated The XII Travelers, named
after the 1946 Calendar of Twelve Travelers Through the Pass of the North
written and illustrated by Tom Lea and published by Carl Hertzog. While
the book commemorates notable characters who left their imprints upon
history, The XII Travelers honors the Distinguished Founding Donors of the
Tom Lea Institute.
J. P. AND MARY JON BRYAN, HOUSTON
J.P. Bryan was told early in life to serve those things that serve your interest and not your self-interest. This sixth-generation Texan's interests range wider than Texas—from art history (his undergraduate major at UT-Austin, where he started a rare-book store and The Pemberton Press) to UT-Austin Law School ("I couldn't see how I'd support my family with an art history degree!") to banking with J.P. Morgan and, later, E.F. Hutton, with a specialty in oil and gas financing, and finally to his 1981 formation and eventual ownership of Torch Energy, which has bought over $3 billion in producing oil and gas properties, sponsored six public companies and numerous private enterprises. That got him named 1995 Entrepreneur of the Year.
In 1995, he took over the reins of Gulf Canada's sagging fortunes and transformed them over a period of three years, earning him Canadian Oil and Gas Producer of the Year in 1996.
Early on, he dedicated himself to balance in life—of building successful business enterprises and using his time and resources for historical preservation and restoration.
He and Mary Jon, his wife, purchased the Gage Hotel (a Henry Trost design, as was Tom Lea's boyhood home) and began its restoration, as well as ongoing restorations of structures on their ranches and of original grasslands, the latter resulting in awards for grassland improvement. They'd also initiated the Torch Collection, now the largest private collection of Texana—over 10,000 items, mostly housed in Houston, that offer visitors a rare view into the history of the West.
J.P. and Mary Jon are the Tom Lea Endowment's first Cabeza de Vaca ($100,000) member/donors, and J.P. is chairman-elect of the Tom Lea Institute board of directors. J.P.'s father, as president of the Texas State Historical Association, knew and corresponded with Tom Lea. Now his son's passionate service to wide-ranging interests continues and expands that connection.
BETTY RUTH WAKEFIELD HALEY, EL PASO
Betty Ruth's mother, Lillie Adair Staten, attended El Paso High School with Tom. When she married John D. Williams, the couple remained friends with Tom and Sarah Lea.
Betty Ruth, who survived two husbands, founded The Wakefield Family Foundation when her first husband C.W. "Wake" Wakefield died. The Foundation helps support many El Paso not-for-profit groups. It presented the El Paso Museum of Art with the EPHS yearbook in which her mother and Tom Lea appear, and where young Tom honed his drawing skills as its illustrator.
"Caring about the community is a family tradition," says Betty Ruth.