Like so many DeMolays, when I joined Clearfield Chapter back (way back!) in 1976 I did it to calm the pressure of family and friends who knew how good the organization would be to me. I begrudgingly went to meetings, but found the emphasis on sports to be a real turn off to me. I attending meetings for several months and then disappeared and fell into the inactive status for the better part of a year.
One day in early September, as the school year was beginning, I received a phone call from Bobby Ingram, the Junior Councilor of Clearfield Chapter, who I vaguely remembered was just beginning to get active having joined a few months before I did. He told me about an upcoming meeting and then told me that his Dad wanted to talk to me. I wasn’t sure where this was heading, but I figured it was worth talking to “Dad” Ingram.
After telling me that he was the new Chapter Advisor, he told me that things were going to change at the Chapter. He promised me that the local program was going to expand into much more than a softball team in the summer and a basketball team in the winter. He wondered what things I was interested in and assured me that anything was possible if the members made it so. (In many ways, he was a generation ahead of where most Chapter Advisors were back in the late 1970’s – he knew that empowering the young men of DeMolay was what would make the program successful.)
“Dad” Ingram explained that he and Bobby had reviewed the list of all of the members who had joined in the past couple of years and that both agreed that I was someone whose future could be in DeMolay if I just came back and gave it another try. (Are you taking notes, Advisors? This single phone call changed my life, and perhaps we need to take a closer look at those young men who have lost interest and try to get them back to “give it one more try!”)
My Mom and Dad were surprised and delighted that I wanted to go back to a meeting. My paternal Grandfather, who was the one who wanted me to join the most, was thrilled. Next thing I knew I was in the card room of the Masonic Temple talking with Bobby and his Dad. They were a persuasive tag team. When we discussed my interests and they learned that I liked to write, “Dad” Ingram told me that the Chapter really needed a newsletter and he asked me to work on a sample and bring it to the next meeting. He gave me some samples from other Chapters, but told me to make it my own.
So I did. In about six weeks we were publishing a monthly newsletter, “The Precepts” and I was totally immersing myself into the program – so much so that I decided to run for Junior Councilor, and in an election I really shouldn’t have won, I was elected, beating the popular athlete who really was the heir apparent! Less than a year after that fateful phone call I found myself Senior Councilor when Bobby Ingram was Master Councilor and I was preparing for my own term as Master Councilor.
Fast forward 10 incredible and memorable years after that phone call, and my “return” to the DeMolay Organization (a place I have obviously, never left!), and I’m preparing to take over as Chapter Advisor of Clearfield Chapter – the third since “Dad” Ingram filled the position, and in a sentimental reversal I found myself working with “Dad” Ingram’s youngest son, Rodney, who was the Junior Councilor of the Chapter. It was a remarkable experience being able to do for Rod what his Dad had done for me. His term as Master Councilor was extremely successful and his work was recognized with the Past Master Councilor’s Meritorious Service Award.
That was in 1988. What of the next 22 years? While the Ingram Family was growing with weddings and children, I was still working with DeMolay, dabbling in politics, returning to college to earn a teaching certification and taking my job with the Pennsylvania Masonic Youth Foundation. I kept in touch with the Ingram family and in 1999 the Ingram Brothers crafted a magnificent set of new candlesticks and preceptor stands for Elizabethtown Chapter – both Bobby and Rod followed in their Dad’s woodworking hobby footsteps and are recognized as two of the best woodworkers in Pennsylvania.
And they have continued to embrace the Masonic tenets that were instilled into their lives as DeMolays: Bobby has two daughters, Charleigh and Bailey, and Rodney has a daughter and son, Raven and Gus. Charleigh is a Past Worthy Advisor of -Moshannon Valley Assembly, Order of Rainbow for Girls, who just installed her sister Bailey as Worthy Advisor and her cousin Raven as Associate Worthy Advisor. What about Gus? A little too young for DeMolay, but definitely looking to that as his future, even if Grand-dad is driving him to al-Aksa Chapter in Altoona.
The Installation was a great experience! Lots of reminiscing with the entire family, including sister Paula, who provided the artwork for the cover of “The Precepts” newsletter in 1977 and who joked with me that she still makes the best meatballs because of many years of making thousands of homemade meatballs for the DeMolay Food Booth at the Clearfield Fair; Mom Betty, who was one of the first Presidents of the Clearfield DeMolay Mother’s Club (long, long before we had “Mom” Advisors!); and Bobby’s wife Tammy, a Past Worthy Advisor and current Mother Advisor of Mo Valley Assembly (I still remember that we joked as active DeMolays that he won her heart during the fast dances because I did too much toe-stomping during the slow dances!)
Thanks for spending some time with me as I rambled through over 30 years of personal history. “Dad” Ingram and his family will always have my respect, friendship and appreciation because if he hadn’t convinced a disinterested 16 year old that he should give DeMolay “one more try” I doubt that any of you would know me as PA DeMolay's Executive Secretary today! Thanks “Dad” Ingram for taking a chance on me!
"Dad" Dave Berry