Symonds, Henry Gardiner (1903–1971)

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: July 5, 2017

Henry Gardiner Symonds, corporation executive, was born on October 15, 1903, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Nathaniel G. and Amy Irene (Millberry) Symonds. He was reared in Chicago and received a B.A. degree in geology from Stanford University in 1924 and an M.A. degree in business administration from Harvard in 1927. His business career began with the Illinois Merchants Trust Company, but by 1930 Symonds had joined the Chicago Corporation as assistant treasurer; he became vice president before moving to Corpus Christi in 1938 to manage the corporation's oil and gas interests there. In 1943 he became president of the newly established Tennessee Gas Transmission Company (renamed Tenneco in 1966) in Houston. This company, formed to move gas by pipeline from Texas to the northeastern United States during World War II, grew in the following years under Symonds's leadership to become an industrial complex of diversified interests reporting assets of over $4 billion in 1970. Major operations of the company in addition to oil and gas included chemicals, packaging, agriculture, and land development. In 1968 Symonds retired as chief executive officer of the company but remained chairman of the board. He was involved in numerous subsidiaries of Tenneco and other companies and was a board member or an officer of at least a dozen companies and corporations, including General Telephone and Electronics Corporation, Packaging Corporation of America, Carrier Corporation, Philadelphia Life Insurance Company, Southern Pacific Company of San Francisco, and several South American oil companies. He served on the boards of Texas A&M University, the University of Houston, and Rice University. Symonds was counselor to the Stanford Research Institute, vice chairman of the National Industrial Conference, a member of the Business Advisory Council of the United States Department of Commerce, and a member of numerous professional and civic organizations. He held an honorary doctor of laws degree from Pepperdine College. He was an Episcopalian. Symonds was married to Margaret Clover on August 11, 1928, and they had five children. He died on June 1, 1971, in Houston and was buried in Oakbrook, Illinois. In 1971 the Tenneco Foundation endowed a $600,000 professorship at Rice University in honor of H. Gardiner Symonds.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Who's Who in America, 1960–61.

  • Education
  • Board Members
  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Business
Time Periods:
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Symonds, Henry Gardiner,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022,

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July 5, 2017

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