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Despite tales of his DX Brothers, Roger Premo ’65, sets the record straight.

The fraternity in the 1962-1965 era was small, friendly, and packed with a good number of witty people, including Barry “Little Magoo” McGuire ’65, Jim Richhart ’64, Mickey Maas ’66, Frank Morrey ’64, Duncan Kretovich ’66, and several others (including their companions such as Donna McGuire.) It was a great oasis to have on a large university campus.  We could have used a few more members because we had to work hard to keep the house suitably filled and to field men for IM sports.  When I was athletic chairman, I had to play every IM sport myself to be sure that we fielded a team. 

I remember having to participate in cross-country to complete our entry in that sport and feeling a considerable ache in my calves for two weeks after the event.  I also played handball at the IM building with Chuck Aldrich ’66 as a doubles partner and I found that I did not have a natural affinity for that sport—although Frank Morrey ’64 was good and Dave Siglin ’64 was excellent.  The Chapter always did its bit to have a float in the Michigras parade in the spring and made a display or two for Homecoming on the front lawn. 

My fondest memory is meeting my girlfriend and now wife Mary Vihtelic at a Delta Chi “grasser” held in the living room of the house on the Saturday night of the Labor Day weekend of 1964. The grasser was moved indoors after we had driven out US-23 to Silver Lake only to find that venue closed.  Mary was John Ambrose’s ’65 blind date for the party.  When John picked up Mary for the date, they realized Mary was a student in a botany class where John was the lab instructor. That ethical issue worked to my benefit since John was not going to be dating a student in his class.  John voluntarily gave me Mary’s phone number and I haven’t ever let Mary get away since our first date. 

Thanks to then grad student Dave Falconer ’62 for piloting the car with Mary, John and Dave’s date to the DX house and sitting his group next to me on the living room floor for our grasser.  A life-changing event for which I have not previously given Dave kudos (the man has a golden touch). Contrary to the myth that Frank Morrey ’64 likes to perpetuate, I did not “bird dog” John Ambrose ’65 in getting a date with Mary.  He gave me that phone number without any duress.  After all, John was not going to let a beautiful woman besmirch his academic reputation. Fortunately for me, Mary was a newly-arrived freshman at the time and I was a senior with a pretty snappy car (when the Olds F-85 was a small car with two bucket seats in front.)  I got myself established with Mary before she really knew which way was up at Michigan.

I have many other fond memories.  The TGIF’s in the house basement were a blast.  What a great feeling to have classes finished for the week and to relax with the brothers and our guests with Ray Charles songs playing and enjoying a beverage or two.  Anytime I hear or think of the Ray Charles song “What I Say,” I see an image of folks dancing in front of the bar area of the basement in the old house and having a rousing time.  It doesn’t get much better than the fun we had on those occasions. 

I remember the IM touch football game where we beat the Beta House, much to the opponent’s surprise.  It was all due to the great elusiveness of our quarterback, Bob Sharp ’65, who was extremely difficult for the opposing players to lay a hand on. He was the Fran Tarkenton of touch football. 

In general, it was nice to make so many friends with interesting and witty people that I’m still happy to know and to converse with to this day.  

I remember seeing Frank Morrey ’64 at the Chapter house on Devil’s Night one October evening wearing a black cape and carrying the hollowed-out pumpkin that he had worn over his head as he toured through the UGLI as the Great Pumpkin.  What a hoot!  As I recall, a photo of the Great Pumpkin figure at the UGLI appeared in the Michigan Daily the next day.  And we at Delta Chi knew the secret identity of the Great Pumpkin.  

I remember having on old buddy in for the weekend and being part of a group that Barry McGuire ’65 regaled with his stories of his trip with Jack Holmes ’65 to the January 1, 1965 Rose Bowl, as we drank beer at a bar in Downtown Ann Arbor.  I remember mention of Jack being quite irate with the carrier that lost his luggage.  Magoo seemed like he was ready for his own television talk show or stand-up act that night, as opposed to being a civil engineer.  

Back in the old days with limited phone-line capacity, we would all congregate around the downstairs phone in the hallway on Sunday and Monday nights to make our calls to try to line up a date for Saturday night.  Some of the stories that the guys had about the excuses that they encountered when they made their calls could have filled a successful prime-time comedy show.  Mickey Maas ’66 was the funniest of the group with his reenacting of some of those calls.  There was also, of course, the exhilaration expressed by the guys who got dates that they were not sure that they would get when they dialed the number.  Just like ABC Wide World of Sports, it was the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!

I lived in the house for three years.  The first year I was in the Tower Suite on the top floor with Bob Berry ’64 and one other roommate.  The second year I was across the hall on the top floor with Bob Sharp ’65 as my roommate.  In my senior year, I remained in the same room and Jack Holmes ’65 was my roommate. 

The Michigan Chapter has produced a great camaraderie and spirit among the brothers that has lasted to the present time.  The Chapter house replacement project has shown that brotherhood and spirit.  I find it very interesting how much fun I have had coming back to reunions and golf events when I meet brothers from later eras than mine.  There really have been many, many great guys who have come through the Delta Chi Michigan chapter who are very worthwhile to meet and strike up new friendships with, including Dan Hughes ’74 who could give the accomplished story tellers of my era a run for their money.  In regard to the construction project, the substantial work and/or generosity of guys like Dave Falconer ’62 , Howard Gandelot ’64, “Eff” Morrey ’64, Keith Hellems ’62, John Levinson ’73, Duncan Kretovich ’66, Dan Maher ’76, Al Knaus ’66, Barry McGuire ’65 and Jack Holmes ’65 and many others shows the brotherhood and spirit that makes me proud to be a member of the Delta Chi Michigan Chapter.  

I have kept in touch with Frank Morrey ‘64 and his wife Colleen over the years.  Frank and I have had many a springtime golf round at the University of Michigan course with Dave Siglin ’64 and Chuck Aldrich ’66 on Frank’s trips back to Southeastern Michigan.  After his graduation, Frank also became a buddy of my wife’s oldest brother when they were both flying for the Michigan Air National Guard.  I have also played golf over the years in Ann Arbor with Al Knaus ’66 and Mickey Maas ’66.  We used to do things with Duncan Kretovich ’66 way back before he went to Oregon and we still see him at the reunions.  We used to do things occasionally around Detroit with Dale Bjorklund ’67 and still look forward to his musicianship at the reunions.  The annual Christmas newsletters from Elliott Lum ’66 and Linda have allowed us to keep tabs on them and their family, as well as seeing them at the reunions. Mary and I recently re-kindled our friendship with Ken Field ’68 and Deb Field at the Penn State football game last fall and we had a great time with them at the game and the Gratzi restaurant afterwards.  As it turns out, Ken and Deb live in a city of Maine that is only about 1-1/2 hours away from our son’s home in Massachusetts and we will be visiting Ken and Deb when we go to our son’s house for July 4th.  A couple of months ago, Mary and I took our Michigan grandson Freddy and another family with two boys to Scott Kremer ’69 and Kitty Kremer’s house in Northville, Michigan to see Scott’s fabulous model train setup reproducing in great detail the look of the Northern Pacific railroad of the 1950’s.

My undergraduate degree was a B.B.A. from the U-M Business School in 1965.   I then got an M.B.A. from Michigan State in 1967 while trying to upgrade my academic record to get into law school.  Since then-girlfriend Mary was still at U-M, I was back in Ann Arbor for almost every weekend during that 18-month sojourn in East Lansing.  Then I was fortunate enough to get into the U-M Law School in 1967 and was a classmate of my younger brother Gil in law school.  I graduated from U-M Law School in 1970. 

With coming back to Ann Arbor on weekends from East Lansing and being in Law School in Ann Arbor, I think I attended every Delta Chi spring and fall pledge formal from the Spring of 1962 through the Spring of 1969.

My first post-college job was as an associate at a big Detroit law firm, Miller Canfield from 1970 to 1973.  After that, I worked for a small law firm in Detroit (that no longer exists) and became a partner in that firm before going out on my own in November of 1978.  I have been a sole practitioner lawyer from 1978 through the present time with an office in Farmington Hills, Michigan. 

The funniest moment in my legal career occurred at my first law firm where I got assigned to represent a Detroit bank in a trial about a real estate dispute.  As a new lawyer with two years of experience, I was handling my first jury trial against a rather feisty individual acting as his own counsel.  I put on the bank’s side of the case first.  When it was time for my opponent to present his case, he took the witness stand himself.  He had a set of prepared questions that he planned to read in his role as questioner and to answer in his role as witness.  My opponent began by posing his first question to himself as follows:  “Mr. Nugent, isn’t it true that the bank.…” I immediately jumped to my feet and barked, “Objection, Your Honor, LEADING QUESTION.”  At that moment, the jurors, the judge and the spectators all broke into uproarious laughter.  The amused judge declared a recess to allow things to calm down in the courtroom.  After the proceedings were reconvened and the court was called to order, the judge spontaneously broke into laughter again before assuming his normal demeanor and continuing with the trial. 

The judge never did rule on my objection and my opponent abandoned his method of reading questions to himself.  At the conclusion of the trial, the jury returned its verdict in favor of my client.  Not a surprising result since my opponent, in front of the jury, had torn a photographic exhibit of mine into pieces when I handed it to him for perusal.  So that’s how I won my first jury trial. 

I am still working as a lawyer at age 73 although I put in much less time than I used to years ago.  I see our two local grandchildren 3 or 4 days a week and have to set aside time for trips with Mary to Boston and Manhattan to visit the four out-of-town grandchildren.  Over the years, handling appeals has become my strongest area.  In 2015, I was successful in getting the Michigan Supreme Court to grant review in a case that another lawyer brought to me after he had lost in the Wayne County Circuit Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals.  After deciding to consider the case, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in our favor and reversed the lower court judgments against the defendants in the case of Epps v. 4 Quarters Restoration, LLC, 495 Mich. 518; 872 NW2d 412 (2015).  Wow, after passing age 70, I have started to get some respect. 

Since 1972, Mary and I have lived in Beverly Hills, Michigan, which is contiguous to Birmingham, in the west side suburbs of Detroit.  We find Beverly Hills to be friendly community with good schools.  And we like it even better since our daughter and her husband moved to Birmingham a little over a mile from our house. 

Mary and I were married in her hometown of Whitehall, Michigan (near Muskegon) in 1969.  This coming August will mark 48 years of marriage.  And we still get along pretty well.  Mary was a teacher initially before staying home to raise the kids until the youngest was in kindergarten.  Then she took courses at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak in 1984-85 to become a nuclear medicine technologist and eventually became the Director of the Beaumont School of Nuclear Medicine Technology until she retired in July of 2012 to help raise a new grandchild. 

Mary and I have been blessed with three personable and accomplished children, all of whom graduated from U-M.  Our son, Roger, graduated from Michigan in 1996 in Political Science and worked in computers for a while in California before getting an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 2006.  He’s a partner in Boston Consulting Group at the main office in Boston and lives in Needham, Mass. with his wife and three of the six Premo grandchildren, Lilly (9), Teddy (7) and Stevie (3). 

Our first daughter Karen graduated from Michigan in 1998 in French and Anthropology and was in the Peace Corps in Togo in West Africa before working in Manhattan for a while.  She went back to school to get an MBA from Wharton and a Masters in International Studies from the Lauder Institute at Wharton in 2005.  She is married and lives in Manhattan with her husband and 2-year old daughter, Mia, and is an executive at Univision, the Spanish-language television network, at the Manhattan business office.  Karen’s husband Mike works for Major League Baseball and has provided us with tickets to Detroit Tigers playoff games and World Series games in the years when the Tigers have made the playoffs. 

Our youngest child, daughter Alison, graduated from Michigan in 2001 in Pre-Med and from the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit in 2005.  Alison is an anesthesiologist at Beaumont Hospital-Dearborn.  She and her husband have two children, Freddy (4) and Noelle (18 months).  Mary has helped with watching and raising the two grandchildren for the past 4-1/2 years.  Alison and her family live in Birmingham a little over a mile from our house and Mary now watches the kids three days a week.  Alison’s husband, Fred, is a Michigan grad whose parents are also Michigan grads.  When I recently explained to my 4-year-old grandson Freddy that his parents and his four grandparents had all gone to school at U-M, he told me on the spot that U-M is where he will go to college.   

My main hobby is golf.  My two main golf buddies and I try to get out for 9 holes once a week with an occasional 18-hole outing to the U-M golf course or a 36-hole weekend in Northern Michigan.  My other hobby is helping Mary with watching the two nearby grandchildren and going out on little excursions with the grandchildren, which we both find to be very enjoyable and worthwhile—and also exhausting on many days. 

I have had one significant health scare. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006 and had a prostatectomy at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. There have been no signs of recurrence of the cancer some 11 years later.  The success of the treatments was foreseen by Delta Chi brother Frank Morrey ’64 when he visited me at home within two weeks of the surgery in 2006.  Sitting on the couch in our TV room watching a golf tournament, Frank (whose specialty is piloting aircraft, not oncology) declared a mere two weeks after the surgery that I was cured and could start thinking about other things.  Frank, of course, was right and everything has worked out well since.  

The biggest success of my life is raising with Mary three great children, who keep in contact with us and have gifted us with six wonderful grandchildren.  We try to all get together in the same spot twice a year, at Christmas at our house and in August for a week’s vacation in a rented vacation property on Lake Michigan near Whitehall, Michigan.  What a great time we have when we all get together and how exhausted all of us kid-watchers get! 

Any regrets in my life?  No particular regrets, other than wishing that I had a much better golf swing. 

Advice to the current undergrads (if asked):  Don’t use the cram-just-before-the-test study method, like I did.  Late in my academic career, I tried the other method, i.e., keeping current as you go along.  Man, that latter method is much easier (although less challenging and less dramatic). When it’s time to review information for an exam, it’s nice if you are actually reviewing. 

How do I want to be remembered?  I guess I want to be remembered as someone who was fun to have around and who didn’t let his bad golf rounds ruin things for the rest of the foursome. 

Contact Information

Roger L. Premo ’65

Address: 17191 Kinross Ave., Beverly Hills, MI 48025

Home Phone: (248) 647-5335

Bus. Phone:  (248) 566-3237

Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.