CHAPTER ETERNAL PA S T N AT I O N A L P R E S I D E N T M E L D E T T R A E N T E R S C H A P T E R E T E R N A L
PAST NATIONAL PRESIDENT MEL DETTRA, OHIO STATE ’45, (RIGHT) HELPS INDUCT COMEDIAN AND ACTOR SHELLEY BERMAN, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ’05, INTO THE PHI KAPPA TAU HALL OF FAME AT THE CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION IN 2006.
LEARNING. LEADING. SERVING.
n Dec. 28, 2011, Phi Kappa Tau’s oldest living Past National President, Mel Dettra, Ohio State ’45, entered Chapter Eternal. He was 85 years old. A devoted brother and Phi Kappa Tau Hall of Fame member, Dettra served his Fraternity as National President from 1968-70. During that time, he presided over 13 expansions. Prior to that esteemed position, he served as a domain chief (now Domain Director) and national councilor. After his National President post, Dettra continued to stay involved. He was scholarship advisor and finance advisor to Alpha Phi chapter at Akron, a Phi Kappa Tau Foundation trustee and then distinguished trustee, loyal donor to the Foundation, and active member at local and national events. Dettra even attended the Fraternity’s 59th National Convention in Denver and participated in Phi Kappa Tau’s traditional Handshake with History, where all members who ever shook hands with a founder start a handshake around the Brotherhood Banquet room so everyone might have a link to the founders. “This is a sad day for my family and members of Phi Kappa Tau,” said Past National President Greg Heilmeier, Bethany ’86, last December. “My family lost a beloved friend of more than 60 years, and our Fraternity lost one of its greatest supporters. Mel Dettra was a living embodiment of our Cardinal Principles, and anyone who had the good fortune of spending time with Mel is the better for it. He always believed that as a Phi Tau volunteer, one had to ‘think of themselves as sculptors, only our clay is HUMAN.’ We all lost a mentor, friend, brother and sculptor in Mel.” Dettra played a huge part in steering Phi Kappa Tau’s IMPACT program, the forerunner to Leadership Academy. After spending his entire term on the National Council working towards the leadership-development program, he realized the fruits of his efforts when the inaugural IMPACT was held in 1968 at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. “Mel was an important role model, friend, and mentor of mine and so many others,” said Past National Councilor Bob Mintz, Ohio State ’71. “This was a man with a big presence! When Mel was around, everyone paid attention. He demanded excellence and principled leadership from us and had an unusual ability to see the potential in each person he encountered. But he didn’t stop there. Mel insisted that each of us work diligently to pursue our highest sense of the possible, as human beings and as an organization.” A long-time executive with the Cleveland-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Dettra was also involved with the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio Department of Missions as a lay member. Dettra is survived by his wife, Grace; son, Dale; and grandsons, Jonathan and Paul.
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Published on Dec 18, 2012