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We all have them — keepsakes and heirlooms handed down from parents, grandparents or others who not only wanted to ensure their safekeeping but also to pass on their significance and related stories. Often times, they take the form of pieces of jewelry, antiques, yellowed wedding announcements from the newspaper or a clip of hair saved in an old book. For Fiji Brother Chuck Armstrong ’64, he has been fortunate to pass on a few things to other generations. But he can’t put them in a box. Instead, he has involved himself in the traditions, bonds and principles of two timeless institutions: Phi Gamma Delta and Major League Baseball.

Certainly, since his Fiji days of the early ’60s, a few things have changed. The world of lava lamps, bell bottoms and landline phones has been replaced with smartphones, kickstarters and streaming entertainment on demand. Despite the change across decades, the influence of Chuck’s days at 640 Russell St. in West Lafayette have had a lifelong impact.

“Lambda Iota Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta perhaps had the greatest influence on my life of anything I have ever experienced,” he explains. “The quality of the brothers and their complete and accepting friendship provided me with much guidance and mentorship both during my days at Purdue and continuing down to today. I believe that my best leadership experiences came about because of and through the fraternity.”

Chuck’s fondest Fiji memories come from being part of a quality organization with brothers like Joe Rudolph ’48, Dick Grace ’51 and Dave Jones ’59  who were always available to give him the wise advice and counsel he needed. He can look back on being part of something that stood for so much more than just a social club. “Phi Gamma Delta, on both the local and national levels, has always stood for all that is good and right about college fraternities. And whenever there were the inevitable veers, strong corrective measures have always been instituted to bring our fraternity back to the proper course.”

Following his graduation from Purdue, Chuck went to law school at Stanford University. After law school, he served three and one-half years on active duty in the U.S. Navy as a line officer, most of the time on an attack aircraft carrier where he qualified as officer-of-the-deck for Formation Steaming and Flight Operations — one of his proudest achievements. In 1971, he was hired by a UCLA Fiji brother to join a downtown Los Angeles law firm where he practiced corporate and business law until 1977. He then took a leave of absence from the law firm to join a client, a furniture manufacturer and importer, as its president and chief operating officer.

After three years of almost constant travel, Chuck next joined an Orange County real estate development company as president/CEO of its asset management subsidiary and general legal counsel of the parent company. The owner of the company bought the Seattle Mariners in February 1981. In October 1983, Chuck moved his family to Seattle where he was made president/chief operating officer of the Mariners. He served in that capacity until they sold the team in October 1989. During the ensuing two and one-half years, he served as the interim athletic director at the University of Washington, officed at two law firms and helped put together a group of investors who bought the Mariners back in July 1992. He was again made president of the team.

“Being president of a major league baseball team is like being in charge of a very emotional public trust in which thousands of people have put their faith and hope. It is 24/7/365 — an awesome responsibility. My only regret is that in 28 years as president of the Seattle Mariners, we never made the World Series. However, some of my greatest successes also came during this time including helping to save major league baseball for Seattle, getting a beautiful new ballpark built, Safeco Field, and putting together an organization whose culture has always been to epitomize all that is good and right about professional athletics. I am so grateful to have been part of Major League Baseball — one of the few activities in North America which transcends generations.”

Chuck retired from the Seattle Mariners on January 31, 2014. Today, Chuck remains active with Lambda Iota, helping to ensure the integrity of the chapter and house for future generations. He is also able to spend more time with his wife of 48 years, Susan, their three children and four grandchildren.

“My wife and family represent my biggest successes. Our oldest daughter and her husband are English professors at Purdue. We have four grandchildren; three girls and one boy. The saddest thing in our lives is that one of our granddaughters, now almost 9, regressed at about 13 months into serious Autism. I have been spending an immense amount of time researching Autism and working with our granddaughter. Since retirement, my wife and I have also had the opportunity to travel including several trips overseas, our latest being to London and St. Petersburg, Russia.”

As Chuck reflects on how Phi Gamma Delta continues in its mission to “promote lifelong friendships, to reaffirm high ethical standards and values, and to foster personal development in the pursuit of excellence,” he has a few words of advice for his younger Fiji brothers.

“Every successful professional sports team has three basic rules that should be incorporated into everyone's daily life. 1) Work hard. Always give your best effort, try and get better every day. 2) Have respect. Respect the game, respect your organization and everyone in it from the CEO to the groundskeeper, respect your opponents but never fear them and respect the fans and everyone with whom you come in contact. Try to never do or say anything that will reflect poorly on you or your organization. 3) Be early. When Vince Lombardi coached the Green Bay Packers, he had a rule that if you were not at least 15 minutes early, you were late.”

His most important words of advice, however, reflect his own desires to leave a true legacy to his family, friends, colleagues and fellow Fiji brothers. “The best advice I can give any of my brothers is to live your life so that others remember you as a good, kind and decent man, who constantly tried to make the world better a better place.”

Brothers can connect with Chuck at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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