In 1992, Melvin Carnahan was elected Missouri's fifty-first governor. He was re-elected in 1996.
Carnahan was born in Birch Tree, Missouri. When his father was elected to the U.S. Congress in the mid-1940s, the family moved to Washington, D.C. Carnahan graduated from George Washington University with a Bachelor's Degree in business administration. Following graduation, he joined the U.S. Air Force. Upon returning to Missouri, he entered law school at the University of Missouri-Columbia, graduating in 1959 with the highest scholastic honors - Law Review and Order of the Coif.
Carnahan began a life of public service at age 26, when he won election as a municipal judge in his hometown of Rolla, Missouri. Two years later, he was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives. After his second term, he returned to his law practice in Rolla, Missouri, and turned his attention toward his family — wife Jean and four children Randy, Russ, Robin, and Tom.— and becoming active in civic affairs.
He began his public life anew in 1980 when he was elected as State Treasurer, and went on to serve as State Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Missouri. It was while on his campaign trail to the U.S. Senate that tragedy struck. In a close race with Governor John Ashcroft, Carnahan was hot on the campaign trail, when his campaign plane crashed en route to his U.S. Senate campaign stop in New Madrid, Missouri. His eldest son, Roger, and a campaign aide were also on board. There were no survivors. It was too late to remove his name from the ballot, so Carnahan's wife, Jean, would be appointed to the Senate should Carnahan defeat Ashcroft. On November 7, 2000, the late Governor Carnahan won election to the United States Senate. Mrs. Carnahan was appointed to the Senate in his place.
Carnahan was initiated into Anacostia Chapter DeMolay in Washington, D.C., in 1950. He received both the Degree of Chevalier and the DeMolay Legion of Honor. In 1987, he became a 33rd Degree Mason. Carnahan was inducted into the DeMolay Hall of Fame on June 26, 1999.
"I have many fond memories of my time as a DeMolay member. Along with my home and my church, DeMolay was one of the major influences on my life during those early formative years. One of the most important lessons I learned from DeMolay was the need for respect—respect for your parents, respect for women, respect for your family and friends, and respect for your community. I also appreciated the many wonderful friendships I was able to make within my chapter. DeMolay provides young men with the tools they need to assume leadership roles and accept the many civic and personal responsibilities that lie ahead of them. Most important of all, DeMolay builds strong character and instills the values that will continue to make this country a great one. I want to thank DeMolay for the difference its organization has made in my life, and I am confident that its principles will continue to inspire young men to realize their potential. "