Arthur Harrison “Red” Motley

Arthur Harrison “Red” Motley, Alpha Beta, 1922, Phi Alpha 1943-1945



Photo of Arthur Motley.

Arthur “Red” Motley was perhaps the most dynamic man to ever wear the badge of Zeta Psi.  At the time of his death, in 1984, his contributions to Zeta Psi were matched by very few others in Zeta Psi’s history.

Red, who earned his nickname for his thatch of flaming red hair, received his bachelors degree from the University of Minnesota, and upon graduation, in 1922, he became the Assistant General Secretary of Zeta Psi. The next year, in 1923, he succeeded Chester Lydecker, to become the General Secretary of Zeta Psi. A position he served Zeta Psi in for 4 years. Red threw himself into a whirlwind of activity on behalf of the fraternity, visiting chapters and alumni groups all over the continent, and by his enthusiasm and persuasiveness convincing the Fraternity to revive struggling chapters (Beta at the University of Virginia), charter new ones (Sigma Epsilon at the University of British Columbia and Sigma Zeta at UCLA), and recommit itself to academic excellence.

Leaving the Central Office, Red started his business career. He began with an advertising position with Crowell-Collier Publishers in 1928, moved on to become the Detroit Manager in 1935, and then in 1941 he became publisher of American Magazine.

While pursuing his business career, he returned to serve Zeta Psi as a wartime Phi Alpha, succeeding the Brother he earlier succeeded as General Secretary, Charles Lydecker, and  serving a then rare, two year term, from 1943 to 1945. He was only the sixth Brother in Zeta Psi’s first 100 years to serve two years as Phi Alpha.  At the time of his becoming Phi Alpha, Red was the second Brother to serve as both Zeta Psi’s COO and Phi Alpha, he has since been joined by Brothers: Louis Bruce, Greg McElroy, Andrew Nunez, M. David Hunter, and Lauck Walton as the only men to have been both Phi Alpha and Zeta Psi’s Chief Operating Officer. Red was instrumental in establishing the Zeta Psi Educational Foundation in 1947.

His success at American led him to become the president of Parade Magazine (1946–76), where he revived the business by following the recipe for success he developed at American. In 1946 Parade was 5 years old, losing money, and had a circulation of about 2.1 million.  When he retired, it was distributed by 116 newspapers, and had a circulation of about 21 million.

One of his trademarks was his signature, written in red crayon on the countless notes he sent to writers at Parade as well as his Zeta Psi brethren.

An unparalleled master of the spoken word, Arthur “Red” Motley was widely respected as one of  the world’s greatest salesman and equally revered as an innovative industry leader.

Through hundreds of eloquent speeches given during his 50-year career, Motley fostered the recognition of advertising as the major driving force in our economy, using his motto, “Nothing Happens Until Somebody Sells Something.” He was a fervent opponent of government control of advertising, Motley advocated education instead of legislation to protect the rights of both companies and individuals in our system of free enterprise.

Brother Motley also served as president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (1960–61). As president he inspired business leaders to become more involved in the social and economic problems of our society.

Brother Motley was a dedicated humanitarian and philanthropist who raised millions of dollars for his favorite causes, including the Desert Hospital Foundation in Palm Springs, the Palm Spring Boy’s Club, United Way and his alma mater, University of Minnesota. He was a hardworking member of Alcoholics Anonymous where he gave his time, fellowship and understanding to help others win a battle which he had already won.

He is the namesake of the Arthur “Red” Motley Exemplary Teaching Award at the University of Minnesota. This award recognizes faculty who exemplify the highest standards of teaching and scholarship and who have enhanced the lives of the  University’s Liberal Arts students.  Red received the University of Minnesota’s highest honor, the Regents Award, and was a charter member of the University of Minnesota Foundation.

In 1985, he was Inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame.

Brother Motley was also a major influence on the Alpha Beta chapter at the University of Minnesota. In 1924, he was one of the Elders who identified the location for the future Zeta Psi house and raised the funds to build a beautiful structure, which continues to stand proudly today.

Zeta Psi’s Red Motley Leadership Fund is named in his honor.  In 1958, Brother Motley received Zeta Psi’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.

Red Motley with President Eisenhower
Brother Motley, in a 1949 Parade Magazine publicity photograph.