The Boy Scouts of America reflects upon the legacy of former Chief Scout Executive Jere Ratcliffe, who passed away on Friday, August 21, 2015. Ratcliffe led the organization from February 1993 through May 2000 as the 9th Chief Scout Executive.
Ratcliffe’s love for Scouting was evident throughout his life. Well beyond his retirement, he stayed close to Scouting volunteers and professionals, both locally and nationally.
He earned the Eagle Scout rank from Tecumseh Council in 1955. After graduating from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, he volunteered at North Florida Council in Jacksonville. While there, he pursued a career as a Scouting professional and attended the National Training School. He first served as district executive in the Blue Ridge Council and later served as Scout executive in West Palm Beach, Florida; Clarksdale, Mississippi; Birmingham, Alabama; and Kansas City, Missouri. Prior to his selection as Chief Scout Executive, he was director of the BSA’s Central Region, headquartered in Illinois.
Ratcliffe was a Distinguished Eagle Scout and the recipient of Exploring’s Silver Award, the Scouter’s Award, and the God and Life Award.
During his tenure as Chief Scout Executive, he met overseas with leaders of the Boy Scouts of Japan to start an exchange program with the BSA. In Scouting magazine, Ratcliffe said Scouting “is one of the few programs that still focuses on values, and values seem to be a quality many of our young people lack today.”
Under his leadership, the BSA created the Nationally Coordinated Endowment Emphasis to increase monetary giving to local councils. He also created the James E. West Fellowship, the 1910 Society, and the Founders Circle to focus on endowments. These efforts effectively doubled local council endowments. Under Ratcliffe’s administration, the Operation First Class program, now known as Scoutreach, was introduced. Its purpose is to provide training and to develop the resources necessary to serve youth.
Ratcliffe grew up in Springfield, Ohio, where he met his wife, Judy. Together, they had a son and daughter, Brian and Susie.
Interment will take place at Oaklawn Cemetery (4801 San Jose Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32207) on Wednesday, September 2, 2015, at 9:30 a.m. with a memorial service to immediately follow at Riverside Presbyterian Church (849 Park St., Jacksonville, FL 32204).
Mr. Ratcliffe’s obituary will appear in the Jacksonville Times-Union newspaper Saturday, August 29, and Sunday, August 30.
Please join us in keeping his family in your thoughts and prayers.