Jeff Bryant, who served only seven months on the Galt City Council in the late 1990s but was instrumental in the council's slow-growth policy, died Feb. 15 in Equatorial Guinea, Africa.
Bryant, 53, was elected to a two-year term on the City Council in 1998, but he resigned the following July after a job transfer to Houston, Texas. He worked for Amerada Hess Corp., an oil company, in Rio Vista when he lived in Galt, but the firm sold its California holdings. That required Bryant to relocate to Texas.
"It's really sad that he died so young," former Galt Councilman Tim Raboy said. "When he was on the council, he was slow-growth, just like me."
Bryant made it clear when he was elected that he didn't want Galt to grow much. He defeated current Councilman Darryl Clare, who placed second, and Raboy, who was third in the voting.
"As the city grows, it is important that the city leaders preserve and protect what Galt is today because there are damn few Galts left in this country," Bryant said during his last Galt council meeting in July 1999. "Moreover, those that do exist should be protected as fervently as an endangered species."
Bryant added, "Right now, Galt is the standard by which my (wife) Beth, the kids and I judge our new home and neighborhood in the Houston area."
Bryant had left his home in the Houston suburb of Humble, Texas, on a business trip to Africa on Feb. 10. His wife, Beth, said she talked to him on the phone twice after that, the last time being on Valentine's Day. He seemed to be in fine health except that he banged up both his knees after tripping while walking up some stairs.
"The next morning, his company showed up at the front door because he didn't show up for work," Beth Bryant said. "They found him in a relaxed position. It was a cerebral hemorrhage. He was resting, and he didn't wake up."
Galt City Clerk Liz Aguire remembers Bryant fondly.
"He was a good guy," Aguire said. "He always came into City Hall with a smile."
Born in Alabama and raised in Florida, Bryant worked for Amerada Hess Corp. for 26 years. From 2000 to 2006, he worked in Algeria, rotating 28 days in the middle of the Sahara Desert and 28 days at home in the Houston area.
Bryant worked for Noble Energy, which has crude oil and natural gas projects throughout the world, for three years. He was anxious to get back out in the field, his wife said.
"Noble Energy — they have been wonderful taking care of everything," Beth Bryant said.
The Bryants had always remembered their time in Galt, where they lived for five years.
"Galt, it's the gold standard," Beth Bryant said. "Sometimes they just don't know what they have out there."
In addition to his wife, Bryant is survived by two children, Kelsey Booth and Morgan James Bryant; his mother, Mildred Bryant; and two brothers, James A. and Jerry D. Bryant.
A memorial service was held on Feb. 27 in his hometown of Humble, Texas.
Memorial contributions may be made to Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund at www.freedomalliance.org. Write "In memory of Jeff Bryant" on the check, and if asked, check "no" for matching funds.