Brother George Robertson ’59

“My University of Michigan experience began in September, 1955 when I arrived in Ann Arbor by train from New York City, grabbed a cab and headed to my assigned dormitory in West Quad. Although I was very independent, I had come from a relatively protected environment as a boarding student for the previous six years at a boys’ prep school. The scope of the U of M experience was a bit overwhelming initially, but I loved the freedom of so many choices and it was definitely what I needed to round out my development. My assigned roommate in the dorm was Chuck Waite, who became a life-long friend until his untimely death 12 years ago.

Chuck rushed that first year and pledged Delta Chi. He encouraged me to rush also and the following semester, I too became a Delta Chi pledge. It turned out to be a good decision, as I felt very comfortable being a member of a smaller group of great guys from varied backgrounds and with a multitude of interests. I have wonderful memories of parties at the house, working on building floats, going to the games on Saturdays, the camaraderie and support of the brothers and even sleeping in a bunk bed in that cold dormitory room. Most important were the many close friendships established and maintained. I moved into an apartment for my senior year but remained active and have kept in touch with a number of the brothers over the 56 years since graduation.

I ended up with dual Bachelor degrees in English and Psychology and went to work as a College Graduate in Training with the Chevrolet Motor Division of General Motors in a Detroit manufacturing operation. As a trainee, it was an excellent opportunity for me to gain supervisory experience in a plant environment, an area in which I had no prior exposure, and it gave me a foundation for my ensuing career. In 1960 I was called in to participate in contract negotiations with the local union and immediately recognized that I wanted to change career directions. I realized that I wanted to develop my skills in working with people rather than with product. Following negotiations, I was fortunate to be assigned to the Labor Relations staff.

From there, I moved into a Salaried Personnel Administration assignment at another Detroit plant, which, early-on, rounded out my experience background and provided a base from which to grow. In a few years, I had the opportunity to transfer to an export operation in New Jersey, which was scheduled for closing – the Personnel Director was retiring and I was to replace him (but not at that level at that time). In addition to the plant closing issues, I had responsibility for the GM employees in corporate owned dealerships in Manhattan. My efforts were directed primarily at employee relations and working with other divisions nationwide to find placement opportunities for the employees who were being displaced. We were successful in placing the bulk of the employees, retiring others and ultimately not having to lay off anyone. At that point, I had the opportunity to transfer to a location in West Virginia that was under construction and took on the staffing responsibility for hundreds of new hires and transferees – interviewing, testing, orienting, training and administering salaries and benefit programs.

I was later reassigned to Divisional headquarters in Michigan and given the responsibility of coordinating the integration and development of a nationwide sales force with thirty-eight Zone and Regional offices. This assignment was eventually expanded to include international responsibility for sales personnel in Europe and the Middle East. I later had an Area Personnel Director assignment headquartered in Philadelphia. My responsibility was Divisional oversight of human resources and industrial relations activities throughout the plants, warehouses and sales offices in the Eastern area of the United States. When I retired in 2003, I was back in Michigan with divisional national HR responsibilities. All-in-all, I had a very rewarding career that was both challenging and satisfying.

Throughout all of our moves and my constant travel, I was blessed with a very supportive wife. John Broad ’60 introduced Lavon and me in 1962, and we were married the following year. I can’t thank John enough for bringing us together. She took on the role of raising our two sons, settling into new communities and developing a social life for us wherever we were while maintaining a stable and comfortable home environment. We were a good team, and it was a blow to all of us when we lost her to a five-year fight with cancer ten years ago. We made the adjustment, and life goes on and continues to be good. My sons are both living in Michigan at this time after living, at times, in other states and overseas. I have two grandsons who add greatly to the quality of my life

I found that I do not retire well – I need to be busy and I need to be active with people. I took some classes and went into a residential real estate business that has been very good for me. I work with great people and meet wonderful clients, many of whom have become long-term friends.

My time as an active member of the Delta Chi fraternity was an important phase of my life and I have found a commonality in the bond with many friends I have made over the years who came from chapters on other campuses. I have had a good life and I wish the same for the young men currently active in the Michigan chapter. I would advise them to establish a strong base and continuously build on it – which they are in the process of doing now – maintain a positive attitude, have a strong sense of adventure and a welcoming approach to change and new challenges, treat others with respect, be true to their ethical standards and family values and have an overall enjoyment of life. They should always be truthful and introspective and never look back with regret, but look forward, having learned from mistakes made.

I presently live in Bloomfield Hill and can be reached at [email protected].”