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, and 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’ve 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.’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.