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Eugene H. Bryan -- Outstanding Alumnus
Bachelor of Science - 1963 - Journalism
Like all good journalists, Gene Bryan knows how to turn a phrase and tell an interesting story, and like most native Wyomingites, he loves his state. So, talking-up Wyoming comes naturally to him. After a couple of two-year stints with the Laramie Daily Boomerang as sports editor and managing editor, separated by a two-year duty with the United States Army, Bryan began his four-decade tourism career as news director for the Wyoming Travel Commission.
Eventually, Bryan and his brother opened their own advertising agency in Cheyenne, and they continued to guide the Wyoming tourism account, building its reputation both nationally and globally. They landed Cheyenne Frontier Days as a major client, and, due to his proven capabilities, Bryan became executive director for The Daddy of ‘em All® in 1978. Under his leadership, the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum and annual Western Art Show were added to the celebration. In 2006, Bryan was inducted into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame.
Bryan left Wyoming in 1985 to be general manager of promotions for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, but he came home in 1988, while fires ravaged Yellowstone, to serve as director of the Wyoming Travel Commission. Bryan turned a phrase and made fire recovery an opportunity for tourists to witness an ecological wonder. Later, Governor Jim Geringer appointed Bryan director of commerce. In 2002, Bryan and his wife Jeanne moved to Cody where he was named director of the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Council. He retired in 2006. Bryan became the second recipient of the Wyoming Economic Development Association’s Den Costantino Spirit of Excellence Award. Currently, he is chair of Wyoming Tourism Board.
“Gene’s career is an example of how one of the core areas of study—communication and journalism—for the A&S College has proven the base for a business career that has had significant impact on events and communities across Wyoming,” notes Kathleen Hoy Witsil.
“The novelist Thomas Wolfe said, ‘you can’t go home again,’ but thank goodness I proved him wrong,” says Bryan. “I returned not once but twice, and I wouldn’t trade my journalism and tourism careers for all the money in the world. My UW education provided the foundation, and the opportunity to work with Frank Norris, Jr., Tony Bevinetto, and Jim Simon at the start of my tourism career was equivalent to master’s and doctorate degrees in marketing. Wyoming has been good to me, and I hope in some small way, I’ve partially repaid the debt.”