Donald L. Bryant Jr. ’64
B.A., Denison University
J.D., Washington University
M.S.F.S., American College of Higher Study
Citation awarded May, 2014
Entrepreneur Donald L. Bryant Jr.’s life is distinguished by true passion and a drive for excellence. After Denison, he completed a law degree at Washington University and founded the Bryant Group in 1967. Bryant recognized a need in the marketplace for a business that designed and funded employee and executive benefits for private and large public companies as well as estate planning for wealthy families in the United States and abroad.
Until the age 51, Bryant was primarily focused on his entrepreneurial and civic activities, family life and golf. That year he moved his family to London to take a one-year sabbatical to immerse himself in the study of art history. He hired a curator from the Tate Museum to mentor him on twentieth century art and traveled to 47 museums. He also studied French and interacted with as few Americans as possible. Named annually by Art News magazine as one of the “Top 200 Collectors in the World”, Don has served as a Trustee at the St. Louis Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, the St. Louis Boys and Girls Club among others.
As a philanthropist, Bryant has concentrated his support towards art education, the performing arts, museums, private schools and universities. He was a major contributor to the Bryant Art Center at both his children’s prep school, Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day (MICDS) and Denison University. He also endowed a distinguished chair in art history at Washington University in St. Louis.
Bryant’s life in the wine world, like the art world, has been an incredible journey. After acquiring a vineyard on Pritchard Hill overlooking Lake Hennessey in Napa Valley in the late 1980s, he replanted it with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon using modern viticulture practices and achieved what is widely considered to be one of the top wines in the world today. Bryant’s prevailing goal is to celebrate the vineyard terroir while paying homage to the great wine making traditions of Bordeaux.