OUR Founder

Sam Gary was born and raised in New York City, the grandson of Russian immigrants. After stints in the Merchant Marine and Coast Guard, in 1953, Sam and his new wife, Nancy, moved to Denver, and they have called Denver home for the last 55 years, raising eight children.


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In Colorado, Sam, an avid outdoorsman, was drawn to the oil business, which he saw as an extension of all the things he loved to do -- especially hunting and fishing. He began his oil career as an oilfield scout for Marvin Davis, later forming his own exploration company, Samuel Gary Oil Producer. But as is the case with most entrepreneurs, business was not easy in the beginning. "I became known for one thing," said Sam. "I was known for drilling dry holes."

But Sam's luck changed in 1967 with the discovery of the Bell Creek Field in southeastern Montana. With more than 400 wells, Bell Creek was, at that time, the 84th largest oil field in the country. A barrel of oil in those days sold for $3.

"There is a saying in the oil business: 'the difference between an idiot and a genius is 40 acres.' I think sometimes in reviewing how good things happen to us, we have a tendency to reinvent it and we become very smart...but the reality is that it was a wonderful stroke of good fortune."

Sharing that good fortune with others less fortunate was important to the Garys. The Piton Foundation was established in 1976 to "encourage personal effort toward self-realization and to improve conditions and opportunities for persons inadequately served by institutions in our society." The foundation, llike the metal mountain climbing tool for which it was named, attempts to provide timely and needed support where none previously existed.

"I find it compelling to see if there's some way that I can share the opportunities that I've sort of taken for granted in my life and try to facilitate opportunities for other people who, really through no fault of their own, have not had the same advantages."

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"You can't have a successful business in a failing society."

-- Sam Gary, founder and chairman, The Piton Foundation