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Posted on March 7, 2019 | 9:01 a.m.

Bryson Smith Randolph, formerly of Santa Barbara, 1937-2018

Source: Carrie Randolph

Bryson Smith Randolph
Bryson Smith Randolph

Bryson Smith Randolph, age 81, died Dec. 18, 2018, at his home in Memphis, Tennessee, under hospice care.

Born to Bryson Randolph and Janette Smith Randolph on April 29, 1937, in Westport, Connecticut, and raised in Upstate New York, Bryson graduated from high school in 1955. He was accepted at both the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and West Point for college.

Bryson always said he chose the Coast Guard because cadets spent their summers sailing around the world on a beautiful sailing ship that was formerly Hitler’s private yacht and given to the Coast Guard as War Reparations, while cadets at West Point spent their summers crawling in the mud under barbed wire with blanks being fired around them.

Upon graduating from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with an engineering degree in 1959, Bryson remained on active duty in the Coast Guard until 1964, and then served as an officer in the Coast Guard Reserves for some years.  

Among his activity duty assignments was command of French Frigate Shoals, an island in the South Pacific that served as a listening post for NASA where he monitored John Glenn’s orbit around the earth; command of the Hollywood search and rescue boat, where he and his vessel appeared for brief moments in various movies and numerous episodes of Lloyd Bridges Sea Hunt; and a stint teaching submarine warfare at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.  

Upon discharge from active duty, Bryson moved to Los Angeles where his first wife, the former Gwen Hefner, was from. He started a family, and became a general contractor building apartments in L.A. (many of which are still standing, much to Bryson’s amazement).

He discovered Santa Barbara, California, and fell in love with what was then a sleepy beach town. He moved his family there and began a successful career in the real estate investment business as the director of acquisitions for Pacific American Real Estate Fund, one of the first publicly offered real estate limited partnerships in the country.

Bryson left Cook to start The Bryson Randolph Company. He was an active real estate investor for more than 40 years, creating partnerships in California, Idaho, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

Many of Bryson’s closest and most durable friendships started in the business world, where he enjoyed mentoring his younger colleagues and had a reputation for high integrity and practical wisdom. 

Bryson was an accomplished entrepreneur, co-founding the San Francisco Bay Area-based Liquidity Fund in the early 1980s, and The Valuations Group in 1994

He was also a strong supporter of local nonprofits, including the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara and the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College.

Bryson moved back to Memphis in 1991, after meeting his soon to be wife, the former Laretha Harris. They married May 19, 1993.  

He is survived by his wife, Laretha; two children from his first marriage, Lisa Randolph (Johnny Austin) of Memphis, and Michael Randolph (Carrie) of Santa Barbara; and three grandchildren of Santa Barbara (Baylor, Devan, and Hayden Randolph); 

The family wishes memorials to be made to the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College.


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