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Kermit Ratzlaff

Services for retired biology professor Kermit Omer Ratzlaff, 100, who died Sept. 27 at Parkside Homes in Hillsboro, will be 11 a.m. Saturday at Parkview Mennonite Brethren Church.

Visitation will be 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the church. Burial will be 10 a.m. Saturday at Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Cemetery.

Born Dec. 26, 1921, in Hillsboro to Jonathan J. and Marie (Plenert) Ratzlaff, he moved with his family to the Oklahoma panhandle in 1928. He was baptized at age 12 at Balko Mennonite Brethren Church and was valedictorian at Corn Bible Academy and at Bethany School in Balko.

He enrolled at Tabor College, where he met Ruth Warkentin. They became engaged in the fall of 1942 shortly before he was inducted into civilian service as a conscientious objector. He served in Oregon, Wisconsin, and California before the couple married Aug. 11, 1944, in Los Angeles.

After receiving a Ph.D. in biology from UCLA in 1962, he joined the faculty of Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, where he remained until his retirement in 1992.

After retiring, the couple moved to Hillsboro, where he was active in Lions Club, the senior center, Grand Oaks Apartments, the Adobe House Museum, and community recycling efforts. He also delivered newspapers until he was 97 years old.

His wife of nearly 72 years preceded him in death as did his brother, Harvey, and his sister, Merlie Friesen.

Survivors include children Kenneth Ratzlaff of Lawrence; Ronald Ratzlaff of St. Charles, Missouri; David Ratzlaff of Batavia, Illinois; Marilyn Lovinger of Nevada, Missouri; and Eugene Ratzlaff of Hopewell Junction, New York; sister Irma Koop; 14 grandchildren; 23 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild.

Memorials have been established with Hillsboro Senior Center and Mennonite Central Committee.

Last modified Oct. 6, 2022

 

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