At Purdue, Fred Meyer thrived on challenges. He enjoyed working his way up through Purdue Bands' officer ranks to captain, the highest rank obtainable under Paul Spotts Emrick.
Today, at age 71, he's no different.
As chairman of George W. Bush's Victory 2000 Campaign, Meyer's worked his way up through Republican ranks all the way to the top.
"I'm Gov. Bush's man in Washington," says Meyer. It's no easy job. The former Aladdin Industries CEO is responsible for coordinating media and fundraising in all 50 states into one cohesive, focused Republican political organization designed to elect Republicans from the courthouse to the White House. And as a businessman, Meyer focuses "not only on the dollars raised, but the efficiency with which it's raised," he says.
With Bush's fundraising ability making its own headlines, "most people are quite happy with the results to date," Meyer says. "The real test is Nov. 7. The presidential race is the biggest game in the world and there's no red ribbon. It's winner take all."
The Purdue alum inherited his interest in politics. His father served on the school board and city council. His grandfather, "the original Fred Meyer," was a German immigrant who became a postmaster and justice of the peace in his new country. Meyer's first involvement came in 1972 as chairman for a successful congressional campaign.
From there, there was no stopping him. From 1979 to 1986, Meyer served as chairman of the Dallas County Republicans and saw the percentage of elected Republicans grow from 10 percent to just under 80 percent. When he became state chairman of the Republican Party of Texas in 1988 there were just two Republicans in state offices. Now all 29 are Republicans.
"My wife says I won't do anything I don't excel at," laughs Meyer who treasures a cup given to him by his employees that proclaims him to be a true "Renaissance Man."
He graduated with high distinction from Purdue in 1949 with a bachelor's in mechanical engineering (playing piccolo in marching band and first flute in concert band), and received his MBA with honors from Harvard. Outside the business office and the political arena, his activities stretch from serving as an elder in the Presbyterian Church to marathon running and mountain climbing. At age 65 he decided to become a race car driver (an interest sparked by Indy 500 trips with AAMB), and is part of a five-man professional team.
"Incidentally, I don't win," Meyer says. But, in those races, it doesn't matter. He's there for the adrenaline rush of competing.
"If the tires are not squealing from turning, accelerating or braking, you're not driving," he says.
The rush Meyer gets from this fall's campaign is similar, but he has his sites set on being a winner.
"There's nothing more exciting or traumatizing than a hard-fought political campaign," he says. "That's what I thrive on " looking for the challenges, just like when we were in band. It was a great experience at Purdue!"
As part of our "A Song Anew" campaign, Fred Meyer established a travel fund that benefits all the performing groups within Purdue University Bands.