In Memoriam: Ralph Bartholomew (1929-2022) (Updated)

In Memoriam:  Ralph Bartholomew (1929-2022) (Updated)

Ralph E Bartholomew, Ed. D.

 PSPA extends the sympathy of its members to the family of Ralph Bartholomew – fellow member, leader, mentor, teacher, and friend – to generations of PSPA colleagues.  If you have a story to share, please send it along to Dr. Scott Sheely, PSPA Secretary, at  He will compile them and share them with the membership and the family.

 From Arland Hotchkiss, President Elect of PSPA: The Ralph Bartholomew Celebration of Life was wonderful on Saturday. Several PSPA members attended including Julia and me, Kevin and Pam Hicks, Mark Haskins and guest, Marilyn Horner, Mike McGrath and wife, and Darryl Biery.  Mike talked about how Ralph was his mentor as PSPA Secretary. There were a lot of great slides, including one with you and Ralph holding an old Saul sign, and a video of Ralph at Saul on his 90th birthday. I met Jerri and Lesli Bartholomew and talked to Jerri about presenting her research at a PSPA meeting.

Ralph Bartholomew, 93, of Douglassville, Pennsylvania passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones on Tuesday, December 13, 2022 at Keystone Villa, Douglassville.  Ralph was one of seven children, born in 1929 to Norman and Bessie Bartholomew, in Bloomsburg Pennsylvania. The first in his family to attend college, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Education from Penn State University in 1951. His respected career as an educator began in Otego, New York, as a teacher of Vocational Agriculture and as a Veterans Program Instructor.  However, after three years in Otego, he was drafted and served three years in the U.S. Army, serving in Virginia and New Jersey during the Korean War.

Returning from the Army, Ralph resumed his education at Penn State University, where he earned his Master’s Degree while serving as a teaching assistant in the College of Agriculture. Then, Ralph accepted an assignment as Head of the Vocational Education Department in Oxford, PA, Area School District – a position he held for the next 10 years.

In 1966, The Pennsylvania Agricultural Education Department recruited Ralph to develop a comprehensive program in Vocational Agriculture at the Philadelphia Farm School.  After one year as Program Coordinator, he was made the first Principal of the new Walter Biddle Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences.  Simultaneously, Ralph completed his Doctor of Education with his dissertation on the selection criteria for vocational students.  This was then used at the Saul School and by the Philadelphia School District.

For twenty-one years, 1966 to 1987, Ralph led the Saul School academic-vocational program.  Visitors throughout the world as well as this country visited the Saul School to learn first-hand about the uniquely successful school and its curriculum. During this time, his achievements were honored by the:

  • Liberty Bell Award from Frank Rizzo
  • Distinguished Service Award: Department of Education from President Ronald Reagan
  • Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture (PSPA) Lifetime Membership Award
  • Distinguished Services Award from Future Farmers of America (FFA)
  • The Zoological Society of Philadelphia proclaimed Ralph E. Bartholomew Day at the Philadelphia Zoo “encouraging employees, visitors and animals to join in honoring a remarkable man.”

Since 1951, Ralph was blessed to have Cleola, his life-long partner and love of his life at his side.  Ralph continued to receive awards on the professional and volunteer front, but nothing compared to the full life they lived together enjoying their family: Jerri (partner John Kaufman), Linda (husband John Waclawsky), and Leslie (partner Paul Lesniewski).  Additionally, Ralph is survived by grandchildren: Jes, Ronnie and Sean and great grandchildren: Collin, Skyler, Ezra and yet another one on the way.

Ralph found the most joy traveling with Cleo and their dear friends and sharing knowledge and exploring his passions with his Stamp Club and PSPA colleagues.  He also thoroughly enjoyed contributing and bettering our world by teaching in 4-H,  supporting church activities and volunteering in the community with Cleo.

Ralph’s favorite greeting was “Greetings and Salutations!” –  an apt reflection of his kindness and generosity towards others. We encourage you to adopt that saying to perpetuate loving kindness in the world.

When asked how he was doing… the usual response was “ Mean and miserable!” – which we all know was NEVER the case.  We encourage you to weave bonds of friendship, learn from each other, teach each other.  Find Ralph’s light there and let it shine through you as you make a difference in the world, as he did.

A Celebration of Life and luncheon will be held at Cedarville United Methodist Church, 1092 Laurelwood Road, Pottstown PA on Saturday, January 21, 2023 at 11 am.  Officiating will be Reverend Sherry Lantz.

 In lieu of flowers, the family asks you consider donations in Ralph’s memory to either:



Cedarville United Methodist Church

(check payable to the Endowment Fund)