The Father of PA DeMolay

mineheartDad” Ralph C. Minehart, often cited as “Uncle” Ralph, is the man primarily responsible for the Order of DeMolay coming to Pennsylvania. Until recently, not much was known about our founder. As part of our 90th Anniversary Celebration, we discovered that “Dad” Minehart is truly an Advisor worthy of emulation.”Dad” Minehart was born in Brownsville, PA, on October 1, 1872. At the age of 14 he moved with his parents to Pittsburgh where he received his education in the public schools. As an adult, he settled in the suburb of Bellvue, where he would serve on borough council. In 1892 he married Miss Emily Rodney, his life long companion. For a number of years he worked as a photographer. He spent the last twenty years of his life in the real estate business. From a search of historical records, it appears that the Mineharts never had any children.


It is thought that “Dad” Minehart became a Mason at the urging of his father-in-law, Robert Thomas Rodney, who was a prominent Pittsburgh business man and a Freemason. Minehart was a leader of men. An active member of the Masonic fraternity, Uncle Ralph was well liked by all who knew him and he received many honors and awards. He is often described as “kind-hearted and warm.” His jovial nature is probably what led him to become involved in helping DeMolay. He first witnessed the conferring of the Degrees of DeMolay in New Jersey. He was so thoroughly inspired that he knew DeMolay had come to Pennsylvania. He was appointed by the DeMolay Grand Council as Deputy for Pennsylvania, the equivalent to the current title of Executive Officer.

“Dad” Minehart also embraced traits that advisors today can learn from. He didn’t try to be a “rock star” leader. Rather, he gathered around him competent people who he knew would help DeMolay grow. He wasn’t one to search out the spotlight and his public remarks are hard to come by. He preferred to empower those around him to get things done, rather than use his force of will.

In both precept and example, “Dad” Minehart lived a life dedicated to service. The best testament we can offer to his character comes from the sad day that he died. The newspapers announced his death with the simple headline “Boys Friend Dies.”

minehartgraveWe ask that all of our advisors strive to “Be Like Ralph” during this 90th Anniversary year. As you assist the young men in your Chapter, engage them like Ralph did. Help them to come to their own conclusions and shed light on new paths, rather than to force ideas upon them. Empowerment is the key to a quality DeMolay program. Ralph Minehart knew that and DeMolay prospered under his leadership. It can prosper again, starting with you, and your efforts to “Be Like Ralph.”

Masonic Affiliations Include:

  • Member of Crescent Lodge No. 576
  • Past High Priest of Bellvue Chapter No. 286, R.A.M.
  • Appointed Grand Officer for the Grand Holy Royal Arch Chapter of PA
  • Member of Mount Moriah Council No. 2, R.S.M.M.
  • Past Commander of Tancred Commandery No. 72, K.T.
  • Right Eminent Past Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Pennsylvania
  • 33°, Valley of Pittsburgh, AASR
  • Member of Syria Shrine, A.A.O.N.M.S.