Richard “Billy” Cannon ’64

From my hometown of La Canada, California I, along with two great High School friends Duane Paul and Scott McCartney, arrived at the University in the Fall of 1959 to begin the college experience and go through Rush together. Little did I then realize when I accepted the opportunity to pledge Fiji that this decision would profoundly impact the rest of my life in such a meaningful way. I loved the House the moment I said yes at Pledge signing and was engulfed and welcomed into the life of Phi Gamma Delta by the Actives and my new Pledge Brothers.

In the Spring of 1963, I became pinned to a saucy California girl named Diane Seaman (another profound event of gigantic import)and in 1964, defying all odds and expectations, graduated and returned to La Canada where I began my first job as a Loan Broker. In 1965 I married Diane. The job, but thankfully not Diane, evaporated in the late 60’s and in 1969 I began to search for a new one concentrating in the Newport Beach area. On one of my many trips to Newport Beach seeking interviews, I by pure happenstance ran into my Pledge Brother Lanny Landon who was then at the very beginning of what has turned out to be a fifty year acting career.

Lanny told me that my Pledge Father Doug Unruh worked for the Irvine Company, headquartered in Newport Beach. The Irvine Company was the largest Developer of Master Planned Communities in the United States. I made contact with Doug and he shepherded me through the interview process and made sure that I was offered a job. Believe me, this was ample payback for all the times he borrowed my car in college and returned it on empty come Sunday night. Does anyone think that yet another profound event occurred in my meeting with Lanny and Doug…….I sure do.

So in 1969 Diane and I moved to Newport Beach and I joined the Irvine Company and for the next fifteen years served as Vice President responsible, during various times, for all Office, Industrial and Retail development.

It was a fun and challenging tenure as a lot of development occurred during those years.

In 1984, I left the Company to join Los Angeles based Watson Land Company, a large developer of primarily Industrial properties in Southern California, where I served as President and CEO until my retirement in 2002 after eighteen years of service to its Shareholders.

During my thirty three year career in Southern California with two large scale Development Companies, I also had the pleasure and satisfaction of serving as head of and on the Boards of various Charitable, Civic, Business and Development Organizations. Along the way, I carved out time to sail across the Atlantic in 1998 with three friends and in 2002 to ride my Bicycle solo across the Country from Newport Beach to Washington D.C.

All of this pales in comparison to the joy and pride I have for my Family. My saucy Pin Mate of 1963 has now been my wife of forty seven years and we have two wonderful Sons (both SAE’s at the University –  Grrrrr ), one fabulous Daughter in Law (a Delta Gamma at the University ) and five great Grandkids (future Wildcats, for sure). They all live close by and are a big and vibrant part of our lives.

This also pales in comparison to my life long love of my Pledge and Fraternity Brothers and The Upsilon Alpha Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta. As can be seen in the narrative, the Fiji Brotherhood has had a profound and positive impact on my life. My Pledge Brothers of 1959 have now been my lifelong friends of more than fifty years. I can truthfully assert that without the Fiji Influence and Brotherhood, my life’s story could well have reflected a far different narrative.