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Ralph Humphrey Head

— A Lifetime Biography —

Successful businessman, philanthropist, loyal churchman, Masonic leader, scholar, writer, community leader. These accolades, among others, evidenced the signal services and unusual merit of Ralph Humphrey Head, who died on October 19, 2002.

Born March 21, 1913, in Orange, California, he attended the University of California, but was forced to withdraw before graduation because of financial hardships during the Depression. He then began a successful and long association with the Pierce family, starting first as the private secretary to an executive in the family mortuary business, and eventually becoming President of Pierce Brothers Mortuaries and Pierce National Life Insurance Company (of which he was the founding general manager). He was recognized nationally in his industry as an officer of the National Selected Morticians.

In his community, he served as a member, and President, of the Toluca Lake Rotary Club. He was a member, and President, of the San Fernando Valley Council, Boy Scouts of America. For his scouting service, he was recognized with the Silver Beaver Award. He chaired the Red Cross campaign in the East San Fernando Valley. He served on the Board of Directors of the Midnight Mission for forty-two years. The Midnight Mission is a non-Masonic charity on Los Angeles’ Skid Row, which offers brotherly love as a way out for the homeless. He was appointed by the Queen of England to the American Society of the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. He has been a loyal and active member of the churches in the various communities in which he has lived, including El Montecito Presbyterian Church in Montecito. Ralph and his wife, the former Miss Frances Towler, had been married for more than sixty-two years at the time of his death.

Ralph was made a Mason in Sunset Lodge, Lodge No. 352, in 1935, and served as its Master in 1942. That lodge is now Metropolitan Lodge No. 352 through consolidation. Ralph also became an affiliated member of Magnolia La-Cumbre Lodge No. 242 in Santa Barbara. He has served the Grand Lodge of California in many capacities, including Grand Orator, Grand Treasurer, and for twenty-five years as a trustee of the Masonic Homes of California, including several terms as President. For his outstanding service to the Masonic Homes, on September 18 of this year the Administration Building in Union City was dedicated as the Ralph H. Head Administration Building. He also served as a trustee of the California Masonic Memorial Temple, and served the Los Angeles Masonic Service Bureau for more than sixty years, including many terms as a Director, and three terms as President.

In the concordant and appendant bodies Ralph held membership and office in most of them. He was a member of the Board of Governors of the Los Angeles Unit of the Shriners Hospitals for Children. In 1942 Ralph joined the Los Angeles Valley of the Scottish Rite, and later served as Venerable Master of the Lodge of Perfection, and as Wise Master of the Chapter of Rose Croix. In 1949 he was honored with the rank of Knight Commander of the Court of Honour, followed by being coronated an Inspector General Honorary of the Thirty-Third Degree, in 1957. In 2001 he was accorded one of the highest honors in the Scottish Rite, that of Knight Grand Cross of the Court of Honour.

It is perhaps for his twenty-eight years as Editor of the California Freemason magazine that Ralph will be remembered best. Through his writings in the California Freemason, Ralph has shared his vision of Applied Masonry with the world. Through this magazine Ralph taught several generations of Masons the meaning and impact that Freemasonry could have for their lives if they learned its important lessons. The Grand Lodge of California recognized the tremendous impact that Ralph had made on Freemasonry by honoring him in 1985 with the coveted title of Mason of the Year.

In 1994, Ralph and his family were saddened by the untimely death of Roger, his elder son, a U.S. Air Force Colonel, Retired, and brother to Steve.

In his eighties Ralph returned to school to complete the education that the Depression had caused him to abandon. In 1996 he completed his Bachelor of Arts Degree in History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, at age 83. At the time he was the oldest in his class — and an inspiration for young men and women years removed from Ralph’s own generation. He was a successful businessman, philanthropist, avid golfer, loyal churchman, scholar, writer, community and Masonic leader, and above all, a Mason. For Ralph there was no greater honor than that of being a Master Mason, and his life demonstrated that he truly understood what it means to be just that.

Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of California