By Conrad Thiede – Phi Delta Theta Foundation
Every Phi Delt, when asked, can list a dozen famous Phis without hesitation.
Lou Gehrig, Neil Armstrong, Benjamin Harrison, Bob Schieffer, Frank Lloyd Wright, and so on.
During discussions at the dinner table or when out with friends, we’ve all been known to say, “Did you know he’s a Phi Delt?!”
Tim Conway, Roger Ebert, J. Willard Marriott, Burt Reynolds, and so on.
But, did you ever stop and ask yourself “who are your own personal Famous Phis?”
These are the Phis who have made a difference in who you are, and offered examples of what it is to be successful in life and career. Some might be well-known, others might not be; some might be chapter brothers, others you may have met after your college days.
I’d like to take this opportunity afforded to me to share a few of my own personal “Famous Phis.”
Ritter Collett, Ohio ’42, is known around Southern Ohio as a great sportswriter and a Baseball Hall of Famer. I was fortunate to call him a friend for many years. While we spent many days at the ballpark, it is for other things that I will always remember Ritter. He was a great father to Rhea and Jerry, and wonderful husband to Jean. He loved opera. For many years, he sponsored the Phi Delt Little 500 bike team in Bloomington, Indiana. Ritter and Jean worked tirelessly for AIM for the Handicapped, and Jean served as organization president. And, Ritter never passed on the opportunity to get-together with a friend or two over sandwiches and a beverage. To me, he was so much more than a sportswriter. He was a friend and mentor.
As a New York Zeta undergraduate, I was fortunate to be a part of a great chapter. Filled with young men from all over the country, and from all walks of life, I learned more about people in those four years than I have since.
Bruce Clayton, Colgate ’89, rushed me, and we would later serve together as officers of the chapter. We even went on spring break one March, driving across the country visiting more than a dozen Phi Delt chapters. What he’s done since our undergraduate days has me even more grateful to call him a friend. Balancing a family and a career in international finance, Bruce has served as an alumni advisor, house corporation officer and chapter fund director. He is always available, and always working to make the Fraternity experience a positive one for Colgate students.
Bruce and I went to school with Adam Friedman, Colgate ’89. Known at Colgate as the guy who was on Letterman’s Stupid Human Tricks, Adam was the consummate entertainer. Upon departing Colgate, Adam discovered that his career choice was not what he expected or enjoyed. An amazing story that only Adam can tell, today, Adam is a director of an organization that assists ex-cons as they re-enter society. I cannot be prouder of my chapter brother.
Jerry Felmley, Illinois ’54, can be seen regularly at Founders Days in Tucson and Green Valley, Arizona. Sometimes wearing his cowboy hat that is only dwarfed by his personality, Jerry’s booming, friendly voice greets every Phi and guest. Jerry’s love for Phi Delta Theta, his family and the Air Force can be witnessed in everything he does. Whether it is dining at a favorite Tucson eatery, taking in a baseball game or comparing travel stories, knowing Jerry has made me a better person.
These are four (yes, there are more) of my own personal Famous Phis.
Who are yours?