FSUC Founder, Philanthropic and Community Visionary Sam Gary has died


Gary Community Investments has announced the passing of its founder, Sam Gary, on Nov. 16, 2020. Gary Community Investments released the following statement on behalf of Nancy Gary and the Gary family.

“It is with great sadness that we share the news that our beloved husband, father, grandfather and longtime community leader Sam Gary passed away at home with his family on November 16, 2020. Sam was a treasure to his family and community. We know that many people will look forward to celebrating his life at a later time when we can safely gather together.”

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the family has requested privacy, while welcoming thoughts, prayers and notes. All condolences may be sent to communications@garycommunity.org. Below is more information about Sam’s life.

About Sam Gary
On November 16, 2020, oil entrepreneur and philanthropist Sam Gary passed away at the age of 94 in Denver, Colorado at home with his family. For more than 40 years, he pioneered the idea that business and philanthropy can – and should – work together to create opportunities for those who need it most. Through his business and philanthropic ventures, Sam was committed to helping the Denver community. 

Throughout his journey, Sam’s wife of 67 years, Nancy, was his steadfast partner in business and family. Nancy was his partner in every endeavor and in every success. The loves of his life were his family, including eight children and seven grandchildren. Nancy and Sam shared passions for hunting, fishing, skiing, and other outdoor pursuits. He maintained lifelong friendships with childhood friends from New York to Colorado. 

Born in New York City on November 1, 1926, Sam moved with Nancy to Denver in the early 1950s to pursue a career in the oil industry. Sam’s success began with the discovery of the Bell Creek Oil Field in Montana in 1967.  With an estimated 240 million barrels of oil, Bell Creek was the 84th largest oil field in the country at the time. In 1977, Ron Williams joined Sam’s company and the company was renamed Gary-Williams Oil Producer, Inc.

In 1976, Sam and Nancy created The Piton Foundation to support the state’s most vulnerable children and families. They were instrumental in establishing and incubating some of Denver’s most influential and impactful nonprofits including the Urban Land Conservancy, Denver Preschool Program and the Colorado Children’s Campaign. After the 2011 sale of the energy business, Sam and Nancy launched Gary Community Investments, a hybrid philanthropic foundation and social impact investing company that combines nonprofit and for-profit resources to improve the Colorado community.

About investing in the community, Sam said, “I would like to see business people try to solve social problems with the same imagination and energy they use to finance a factory or make a deal. Don’t call it philanthropy; call it corporate social investment. Make it integral to business.”

In addition to his philanthropic work, Sam was the visionary behind the former Stapleton Airport site’s redevelopment into a sustainable, urban community where residents could live, work and play. Sam was a founding member of the Colorado Forum and spearheaded the creation of Colorado Open Lands, serving as the land conservation's first chair of the board.
Sam and Nancy’s strong belief in the importance of health care access for all children led them to support a number of efforts, including Children’s Medical Center, an urban pediatric practice dedicated to serving low-income children, and the creation of the Colorado Children’s Healthcare Access Program, which was instrumental in getting children enrolled in Medicaid. In addition, Sam and Nancy have been longtime supporters of Children’s Hospital in Denver.

A few words about Sam Gary...

From Alisha Brown


The impact of his life is significant and far reaching. He was a good man with  humbleness and a heart of service. I appreciated every time I got to sit on the coach with him. Even though I didn’t drink, he did and I had a good time listening and learning for the remainder of the day. 


He was the vision behind our Foundation’s existence. I hope that we can do some sort of tribute and create something long lasting in his honor.


From Brian Weber


It was an honor to know and work with Sam. He was one of the true "Good Men'', always so delightful, respectful and caring of everyone but himself. And a wry sense of humor. "If they asked me to do the Green Book I'd get the color wrong,'' he once joked to me.


One of the most humble people I've ever known which is a sure sign of greatness.



Board Member Laurel Raines


I hadn’t heard about Harry and now Sam and of course Landri. I remember the respect, fun and love that circled between the three of them and Beverly. I would leave meetings energized by all they stood for and had accomplished. 


This year has been so difficult and it makes me sad to lose such remarkable figures in Denver’s community. I can picture the three of them having a good laugh in heaven! 

Be well every one, 



Board Member Happy Haynes



You may have already heard about the passing of our beloved founder and champion, Sam Gary.  Hardly a day could go by without encountering somewhere in this city a project, a program, a place, a  person or some innovative idea that Sam didn’t deeply influence and support. 


 In his humble, intense and goodhearted way, Sam touched so many lives and made such a difference in our community that his absence feels like the earth moving underneath our feet. Luckily, he has left an amazing legacy to help guide and steady us as we continue to build and strengthen our community.  If we hadn’t just lost our dear friend, Harry Lewis as well, he would have been the first recognize Sam. 


 I can still hear his many speeches about Sam’s leadership and impact. May both of these champions rest in peace!