A Century of Mentorship

December 23, 2022

Ralph Wray
Ralph Wray

"For their service and loyalty, the Fraternity is forever grateful.”

One hundred years ago, within a few months of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Central Office, the Arch Chapter added to the administrative staff a field secretary who was also slated to be a Central Office assistant.

“Those who read Brother Bielaski's ‘Help Wanted’ advertisement in The Rainbow probably doubted that a man who would meet all the requirements could be found. But at its annual meeting in September, the Arch Chapter decided it had found just such a man in Brother Ralph M. Wray (University of Colorado, 1921).1

In a letter of endorsement addressed to the Arch Chapter an unidentified brother from another chapter wrote, "I have known Ralph Wray for two years while here in school and have found him to be the best-liked fellow both in and out of the Fraternity that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He is not an athlete but was given the greatest honor that the student body can bestow on a student when he was selected to carry the Senior Cane. Ralph has the ability to be a friend of everyone, and I have never heard anyone speak anything but words of praise of him. He is well-liked by the faculty here; is known to be the sort of fellow who stands only for the best things and is just the sort of a man who could walk into a college president's office and convince him that both he and Delta Tau Delta stand only for the square thing. During his last year in school, he was president of Beta Kappa Chapter and accomplished much for the advancement of the chapter and Delta Tau Delta.”

Wray, who served as a Lieutenant of Artillery during World War I, or as it was written in 1922, “the War,” was known to be able to walk into any chapter shelter and command respect and admiration. Also noted in The Rainbow, “His musical ability is nothing short of phenomenal, and I believe this would be a great asset to a traveling secretary. He is a regular honest-to-John sort of fellow.”

Over the years field secretaries became known as the chapter consultants – Delt alumni known as among the best 253 men in history. Wray set the standard for field staff. The scrapbook of his travels chronicled nearly six years of chapter visits. Following his staff service, he was a regular contributing writer to The Rainbow and published the Fourth Edition of the Fraternity's songbook.

Lt. Col. Ralph M. Ray led an interesting and diversified life moving from his Fraternity position into the field of music, then to World War II service in the Marine Corps. He was associated with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and oversaw raising funds and building the Iwo Jima Memorial in the nation's capital. He served as a part-time consultant for Felix DeWeldon, the sculptor of the Iwo memorial, and for the Marine Corps Reserve Officers Association. He served as executive secretary of the Marine Corps War Memorial Foundation and national treasurer of the Marine Corps Reserve Officers Association. Wray entered the Chapter Eternal in 1972.

Among the many notable field secretaries who followed Wray’s service are the first group of field staff who traveled together and came to be known as the “Four Horsemen,” John W. Fisher (University of Tennessee, 1938), Ken Penfold (University of Colorado, 1937), Eugene Hibbs (University of Kansas, 1922) and “Bud” Murphy (Pennsylvania State University, 1938). Murphy originally proposed Delta Tau Delta’s Leadership Academies which launched in 1995 and served as a stepping stone to the wealth of leadership programs the Fraternity has offered and continues to develop.

Chapter consultants continue to lead by example after their official service to the Fraternity giving time, talent and treasure. Many have gone on to serve in volunteer roles as division vice presidents, chapter advisors and house corporation officers. A reflection of their enduring commitment, more than 70 percent of those men who have served in the field secretary or chapter consultant role support the Delta Tau Delta Foundation through donations.

The long line of men drawn to coach chapter officers and mentor Delts with an eye to the future leads to today’s chapter leadership consultants who will guide the Fraternity through 2023. In the coming year, the Fraternity will hire its first chapter consultants born in the 21st century. Like Wray in the early 20th century, they will forge the future of Delta Tau Delta as men of truth, courage, faith and power; men who are unafraid to challenge the status quo and who help shape the next generation of leaders.

1 The Rainbow, Vol. 46, No. 1