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Original Issue

Alfred Glassell Jr., Fisherman MARCH 19, 1956

In 1953 a dream came true for Alfred Glassell Jr. when he
wrestled a 1,560-pound black marlin with a rod and reel for
nearly two hours and boated the record catch. Now, when he speaks
of the vision he has for the Glassell School of Arts in Houston,
saying that "in the next 50 years there won't be a single great
artist that hasn't spent time here," you take Glassell, 89, at
his word.

The school, which is affiliated with the Houston Museum of Fine
Arts and was mostly paid for by a donation from Glassell,
attracts aspiring artists for undergraduate study and offers a
one-year fellowship program for 10 young artists. Four artists
have gone on to have their work displayed in New York's Whitney
Museum of American Art.

Glassell's interest in art goes back to the early 1940s, when he
took a liking to Akan gold sculptures and ultimately became the
largest collector of such artwork in the U.S., with more than 900
pieces. Much of that collection has been displayed at the Houston
museum, for which Glassell has been a benefactor for more than 30

The son of a Texas energy tycoon, Glassell had the financial
means to pursue his passions, including the sport that he became
hooked on from the time he reeled in a four-pound bass as a
three-year-old. After fishing the hot spots along the Texas
coast, he developed a taste for the big fish. He tried the waters
off southern Florida without great success and then headed for
the Indian and Pacific oceans in search of the biggest game fish
in the world. In the late '40s he commissioned marine biologists
from Yale and Miami to perform an in-depth analysis of the
Pacific's currents and their affect on sea life. The scientists
determined that two powerful currents met at the western point of
South America, creating an upwelling of marine nutrients off the
coast of Peru. Glassell believed that the area off Cobo Blanco
would be a rich fishing spot. He and his crew went to that
location in 1953 and hauled in the 16-foot, 1,560-pound black
marlin, which remains the all-tackle record for that fish and is
on display at the Smithsonian.

Open-heart surgery in 1986 ended Glassell's big-game fishing. He
devotes his time to his oil and gas production company, the
museum and school and his family, which includes wife Clare, five
children and six grandchildren. He still wets a hook from time to
time but doesn't cast for anything bigger than five pounds. "I
guess I'll have to take up golf," says Glassell, "but not until I
retire." --John O'Keefe

COLOR PHOTO: CORNELL CAPA (COVER) HOOKED After traveling from sea to sea, Glassell landed the big one off Peru.


Glassell, 89, devotes much of his time to a Houston museum and
the small art school that bears his name.