Frank J. Morrey ’64: “Those fond memories of my ‘Good Old College Days’ at Delta Chi have not faded.”

Preface: Keith Hellems ’62 and I promised to retire after the successful fund-raising campaign to build the new chapter house, but here we are, still the main force in publishing these eDelts. We are aging out, if there are any more youthful alumni who would like to contribute, please get in touch at [email protected]. It’s not at all time consuming and is quite enjoyable. 

I attended H. H. Lowrey High School in Dearborn, Michigan, where I graduated with honors in the spring of 1960 and earned a scholarship to the University of Michigan. That fall, I went to Ann Arbor to live at South Quad intending to become an engineering student. Instead, I earned a degree in psychology, which I never used, but it worked out well. I spent many hours walking to the UofM Golf Course, where the student fee was $1.00. Almost immediately, I assumed the beatnik lifestyle, listening to Ray Charles, wearing a sweatshirt, and trying to play the harmonica. In my junior year, I gave up being a beatnik and decided check what other options might be available on campus, including the fraternities. Eventually, I signed up for fall rush and pledged Delta Chi that semester.

At Delta Chi, I discovered a friendly, down to earth, and interesting group of brothers. During rush when I visited the house I was greeted by Bob Berry ’64, Duncan Kretovich ’66 and Roger Premo ‘65, all of whom went to Lowrey H.S.! The traditions at the house suited me well. We wore a coat and tie to dinner, sang the “Bond” before being seated, and engaged in lively conversation more than likely roasting our brothers. My bonding was complete when we would play bridge in the card room until the wee hours of the morning and sing our college songs on late Friday night in the drinking room with Dale Bjorklund ‘67 at the piano and Barry McGuire ‘65 in harmony. (When these songs went out of fashion during the 70’s, I became the historian and assembled the Delta Chi Songbook for posterity.)

Roger Premo ‘65 and I introduced the Twist to house parties, followed by the Frug, Jerk, etc. I introduced an unknown artist, Bob Dylan, to the brothers. Each semester we would honor the pledges (Associate Members as they are called now) at our pledge formals. Toga parties were always the favorite with our theme parties, we had to work fast–our dates had to be back in their dorm by midnight. During “help week”, many of us joined Howard Gandelot ‘64 and his father to make improvements to the chapter house, for example, the basement party room that lasted until the house was demoed.

The chapter house had but one landline to serve the entire fraternity. (Does anyone remember the number?) When a caller wanted to talk to a particular brother, we would have to shout out their name or run up to the third floor to find them. We had to negotiate our weekend dates on the extension handset in the closet on the second floor, which provided more privacy. But our line and that of our date were invariably busy. For that reason, many a weekend was frustratingly dateless.

Those of us of legal age (and some that were not, e.g., Al Knaus ‘66) would visit the P-Bell, Schwabens, Liberty Inn, or Midway Lunch to listen to Washboard Willie. He was an icon of Rhythm and Blues music, who sang and strummed a washboard with thimbles on his fingers, it was truly amazing. We later hired him to perform on our front lawn for a concert promoting fall rush. During this time, Mickey Maas ‘66 and I started to write a guidebook about the Ann Arbor area bars and taverns. We never published it, but we certainly enjoyed doing the research. We had a head start on Trip Advisor!

On graduation, I became a prime candidate for the draft for the Vietnam War. (Remember, I had a degree in psychology which did not provide any critical-skills deferment for me.) However, since Vietnam and its guerrilla-filled jungles held no fascination for me, Michigan and Ann Arbor did. So, I joined the Michigan Air National Guard. And, I continued to live in Ann Arbor, sometimes at the fraternity house, for another two years waiting for my assignment to USAF flight school (Is it possible that I was a bad influence on the actives’ study habits during this time?)  Eventually, I was sent, as a second lieutenant, to Air Force Pilot Training School in Enid, Oklahoma, where I trained on the T-37 and T-38. 

I served in the Michigan Air Guard for eight years flying the RF-84F, an obsolete Korean era single-seat jet. On one occasion, we took the fraternity’s Michiganensian photo on the wing of the RF-84F at Detroit Metro. After serving in the Guard, I was hired by Eastern Airlines and flew commercially for the next 22 years before the airline went bankrupt and ceased operations. During those years, my flight privileges enabled me to visit the Delta Chi house in Ann Arbor and my parent’s house in nearby Dearborn Heights almost monthly.  

As noted, I returned to Ann Arbor monthly for some twenty-two years. When visiting the chapter house, I continued the tradition of playing cards in the card room. However, in time, there was some devolution in the games played. From bridge as the game of choice, we went to Euchre, Horse-thief, and then, Oh Shit! All the while, I was able to get to know one generation after another of Delta Chis. This connection allowed me to pass on the historical traditions of the fraternity to its newer members. In appreciation, the active chapter established the Frank J. Morrey Outstanding Alumni Award, which was presented first to me and then to deserving alumni each year.

As a result of my frequent visits, I had got to know many brothers over many years quite personally. It was always enjoyable for me to make a phone call, share good memories, and update personal information. This facilitated then my organizing of alumni reunions and annual golf outings. We’ve held the Annual DX Golf Outing for the last 40 years at the Blue Course in early summer. In addition, I organized reunions for the ‘60s alumni every five years. Eventually, these get-togethers were extended to all alumni and were held every year during fundraising campaign for the new chapter house.

Golf outing in 2015. L-R: Frank Morrey ’64, John Stinson ’75, Roger Premo ’65, Dave Siglin ’64, Ernie Caviani, Alan Knaus ’66 and David Falconer ’62.

Along with Howard Gandelot ‘64, David Falconer ‘62, Keith Hellems ‘62 and John Levinson ‘73, we did the unthinkable and raised $1.1 million to successfully build the state-of-the-art chapter house you see today at 1705 Hill Street. It took six years of monthly conference calls, email newsletters, and printed Delts. Our motto was “Securing our Legacy, Building our Future” for the Michigan Chapter of Delta Chi. This alumni response was overwhelming. And, it was gratifying to see other fellow alumni care as much about Delta Chi as we did. This effort, I consider one of my greatest accomplishments.

But eventually the Peter Pan of Delta Chi had to grow up. I met Colleen, also working at Eastern Airlines, in 1973 and we were married in 1975. Over the years, we have lived in Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and now Colorado Springs, where we plan to stay. Colleen and I have two sons, Michael, the oldest, lives in Harpers Ferry, WV, and is a programmer. But his main love is trains, not airplanes. The younger, Daniel, is an accountant. His main hobby is model railroading. He and his wife, Lilit, live in Denver with our two delightful grandchildren, Amelia and David. I’ll have them on bikes soon enough!!    

After Eastern Airlines, my career took several interesting turns. I spent seven months living in Istanbul, Turkey flying the B-737 for Istanbul Airlines. After that, 18 months in Brussels flying the B-737 for Richard Branson’s Virgin Express. Then, three months in Saudi Arabia flying for a sheik, who owned his own B-727. Finally, flying the Boeing Business Jet as an instructor pilot for NetJets. We flew many big name celebrities: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Hopkins, Mariah Carey, J-Lo and Ben Affleck. The latter were dating at the time and they enjoyed their own shower and king-size bed in the aft cabin of the aircraft. In 2004 I retired as captain with 5,000 hours of flight time in the B-737 and 22,000 hours in total. 

I’ve always been active and never at a loss for finding fun things to do. I started running road races in 1976 and am still participating, but now in a much-depleted age group! I have run (read “fast walk”) the Pikes Peak Ascent eight times. I like to ride my new blue BH road bike on the mountain roads around Colorado Springs. I have also ridden in both the French and Italian Alps, including Col du Galibier and Mont Ventoux of Tour de France fame. And, I am still able to occasionally fit in a round of golf. 

Hiking above timberline on the many 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado has always brought me great satisfaction. After retirement, I became fascinated with the spectacular alpine varieties of wildflowers. In the process of identifying and photographing them I have assembled a digital book containing some 250 species. Several of these photos have appeared in published alpine flower books, to my great satisfaction.

Those fond memories of my “Good Old College Days” at Delta Chi have not faded. All those brothers who I have gotten to know over the years are still the most interesting people in my life. They’re the ones with whom I enjoy visiting during chapter reunions and summer golf outings.

Thank you Delta Chi.

Frank J. Morrey
[email protected]


One thought on “Frank J. Morrey ’64: “Those fond memories of my ‘Good Old College Days’ at Delta Chi have not faded.”

  1. Thanks for sharing the details of your expansive, fulfilling life of adventure and accomplishment. Still waiting for you to visit us.

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