The Definitive Guide to Houston

Russell Gordy: The Humble Philanthropist, Business & Family Man

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Russell Gordy’s resume is quintessentially Texan. Oil and gas. Wheeling and dealing in Houston’s happening real estate scene. An avid outdoorsman with a spread of ranches encompassing more than 150,000 acres across several states.  

But there’s nothing remotely braggadocious about his personality.  Instead, Gordy’s quick to point to his humble upbringing as laying the foundation for his accomplishments. In particular, he gives much credit to Houston. Gordy became a Houstonian at the age of three, when his family moved here from Savannah, Georgia. Both parents worked outside of the home – his mother cleaned offices while his father served as a police officer. Against this backdrop, Gordy saw opportunity when he returned to Houston, pursuing a career in the oil and gas field after working his way through college at Sam Houston State University (SHSU) in Huntsville.  Houston’s openness is what continues to inspire him. 

Houston is a dynamic, entrepreneurial city. It epitomizes America in its lack of social barriers to becoming successful. I grew up here myself as very poor, so I can say firsthand that that’s what makes it such a great city.

At the same time, Gordy is conscious of the need to lend a hand. He and his wife, Glenda, are partners in philanthropy with Texas Children’s Hospital and Delpechin Children’s Center as two causes closest to their hearts. As proud SHSU Bearkats, the couple supports their alma mater through endowments, as well as taking a hands-on approach to giving. Every June, the Gordys cheer on the school’s team during the College National Finals Rodeo championships held in Wyoming – conveniently located near one of their ranches. Together, they treat these collegiate bull riders and steer wrestlers to meals and much-needed rest and relaxation, including a trip to the waterfall on their property.  

The Gordys’ charitable contributions extend to the arts as well. As longtime fans of Houston’s Stages Repertory Theatre, a mid-sized theatre company founded in 1978, the Gordys have moved beyond being mere attendees to active participants in the theater’s growth. Most recently, their generous contribution culminated in a groundbreaking for a 66,850 square-foot, three-theater campus bearing the name of their donors, The Gordy. It’s a fitting tribute for this couple who even celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary at Stages. According to Mark Folkes, Managing Director of Stages, the Gordys “have been lifting up nonprofit organizations across the city for years providing lead support anonymously. We’re honored that Stages has the opportunity to recognize them by naming our new campus, The Gordy, acknowledging not only what they’re doing for us, but also honoring a family that has done so much for the city but hasn’t been recognized in a significant way until now.” But it’s clear from chatting with Gordy about Stages that his favorite role is theatergoer – enjoying shows starring emerging artists, many of whom hail from SHSU as part of Stages’ performance and production internship program for college students.  

And not far from Stages, Gordy has brought his love for the great outdoors to Houston. As a self-described “gun guy who fishes,” Gordy’s introduction to the sport of hunting originated from time spent at his grandparents’ farm in Louisiana. Without hesitation, Gordy, an ardent collector of fine firearms, ranks his grandfather’s 20gauge, Winchester Model 12, pump-action shotgun as the most treasured piece in his collection – a possession with hefty sentimental value from the man who taught Gordy to shoot at a very early age. Gordy now shares that passion in the form of a retail refuge for outdoor enthusiasts.   

Adding to his Washington Corridor real estate portfolio, Gordy rescued a 1950s brick building situated on the curvy southbound portion of Waugh leading to Buffalo Bayou and transformed the space into his dream gun store. Besides being only blocks away from his office, he says,

It reminded me of the factory of the famous English gunmakers, Purdey, and I knew it would be perfect for the store. Being on an acre and set across two floors, it was the perfect size for what I wanted to do.

Opening in the summer of 2017, Gordy & Sons Outfitters is a premier purveyor of high-end hunting and fishing equipment, apparel, and accessories. The stunning 11,000 square-feet showroom designed by Locati Architects (the same firm who designed Gordy’s ranch home in Montana) features copper-pressed ceiling tiles, reclaimed longleaf pine floors, and a cozy sitting area complete with plush leather chairs, cigar humidors, and a view of the store’s awe-inspiring gun vault.  

Behind the 18,000-pound, restored 1930s bank-vault door, you’ll find 225 of the store’s top firearms from the world’s most renowned gunmakers, like Purdey, Rigby, Perazzi, and Saeur, beautifully displayed in the bespoke walnut cabinets built by Julian & Sons, the soughtafter U.S. designer for trophy and gun rooms. With intricate engravings and wood overlays, these handcrafted hunting rifles and shotguns are functional works of art, which is reflected in their price tags that start around $10,000. The vault holds only a portion of the store’s impressive and unrivaled inventory, (they have more Purdey firearms than Purdey themselves) while display cases filled with shotguns line the walls outside of the vault and the rest are stored in their on-site gunsmithing workshop.  

For fishermen, the stocked, purpose-built outdoor casting pond is the store’s showstopper. Looking more like the setting for a garden party, customers can test out rods, take a lesson, or even enjoy a cigar by the pond. Keeping with their sense of community spirit, there are plans to offer monthly, free fly-fishing lessons to children, as well as women, the fastest growing demographic in the sport, who Gordy claims learn faster than men.  

For Gordy and his sons, Shaun and Garrett, the store is truly a family affair. “Running the store is something we can do together as a family, and it’s a great place for us all to gather. Even my grandsons, who are 8 and 9, love to come in the store and stand behind the counter and be a part of it.” Which is probably why if Gordy is in Houston, you’re likely to see him prowling around the store, practicing his fishing skills at the casting pond, or chatting with the employees, who are like an extended family. And it’s that sense of kinship that Gordy aims for whether he’s building a business or investing in the city where he got his start.  

Visit Gordy & Sons Tuesday through Saturday 10 am – 6 pm.

All Photos Courtesy of Russell Gordy

Dana is a native Texan who grew up in Houston and Joni is a transplant via Kansas, North Carolina, Scotland, and New Orleans. Together, they founded Trip Chandler, a two-woman team who create guides to Houston and provide tours to the city for visitors and locals!

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