John Vernon Bevan Olyphant ’63

Brother Olyphant was born April 25, 1941 in New York City. At the age of 12 he came west while attending boarding school in the East. Bevan says that even as a 12 year old he didn’t want to go home for the summers so he continued to find jobs away from home. At the age of 14, while attending high school, Bevan acquired a summer job with the New Jersey Zinc Company in Canada and later in the Four Corners area. Brother Olyphant continued with this summer job until the fall of 1959. At this point in time, he accepted an athletic scholarship to the U of A. Bevan played tennis and football but due to an injury, he settled on tennis during the four years he attended the University. The main reason he came to the U of A was to study in the College of Mines. When exploration opportunities decreased Bevan switched to geological engineering and ultimately received his B.S. degree from the College of Agriculture. It goes without saying that Bevan pledged Fiji in the fall of 1959. Bevan graduated in the spring of 1963 and continued for one more year doing graduate work. While at the University, Bevan was on the Dean’s list. In 1964, Brother Olyphant entered the U.S. Army. In 1965, he married. While in the Army, Bevan achieved the rank of Captain. He served in Vietnam as a member of the 101st Airborne and with the Special Forces (Green Berets) as an “A” team leader. He was honorably discharged in 1970. He went to work for Del Monte foods, serving in its International Division. This job took Brother Olyphant to such exotic places as Hawaii and the South Philippines. In 1973, Del Monte foods sent Bevan to California for additional training. While in California, he received an offer he couldn’t refuse from Gallo Wines. Bevan served as the vice president of production and reported directly to Julio Gallo. At that time, Gallo Wine was producing 65 million cases of wine per year. He remained with Gallo for 17 years.

In 1990, Brother Olyphant retired from Gallo Wines and sought adventure. He went to the South Pacific and worked as a black pearl farmer. In 2000, he returned to southern Arizona to join the family cattle business. The ranch is located in southern Arizona around the Sonoita area. Brother Olyphant is also employed by the University of Arizona as a professor in the Honors College. He has been honored as the outstanding professor of the year twice. Brother Olyphant has been inducted into the Phi Gamma Delta National Hall of Fame. He also serves as a member of the Upsilon Alpha board of chapter advisors and on the house corporation. Bevan has also served on the board of directors of the Salvation Army (Northern California branch).

Brother Olyphant now resides in Tucson with his wife Sally. He has three grown sons, Andrew, Timothy, and Matthew. Bevan says his time with Fiji gave him an opportunity to enjoy the college experience with a wonderful cross section of outstanding young men. All of these young men had high principles and many are still friends today.