Richard Ratcliff, 86

Former River Forest village attorney

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Richard S. Ratcliff died on March 6, 2018 in Holland, Michigan, just shy of his 87th birthday. His wife of 62 years, Patty Cullen Ratcliff, noted that it was just like Dick to figure out how to best exit this world: in his sleep, with Patty by his side. 

A native of Oak Park and River Forest, he graduated from OPRF High School in 1948. In high school, he developed his love of language and writing and excelled in athletic activity, winning an award his senior year for best defensive guard in Cook County. He went to the University of Michigan on a football scholarship and stayed for seven years, earning a B.A. in Economics and a J.D. and developing what would become a lifelong dedication to the Wolverines. 

Dick met Patty Cullen on spring break in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They grew up three blocks from each other and were two years apart at OPRF, but did not meet until he was in law school and Patty was teaching in Indianapolis. They married on April 14, 1956. He served in the U.S. Army from 1956-1959, attaining the rank of 1st Lt. in the Judge Advocate General's Corps, and the newlyweds lived in Virginia and California during this time.

 In 1959 they returned to their roots in the Chicago area, settling in Oak Park, and later River Forest. He joined the law firm of Keck, Chushman, Mahin & Cate and was made partner in 1968. His practice focused on general corporate law, with an emphasis on labor law. In the last years of his professional career he was the Village Attorney of River Forest. 

Among his many civic activities, he served as president of the River Forest PTA, director of the River Forest Service Club, president of the Oak Park-River Forest Community Chest, and school board member of Oak Park and River Forest High School. The Ratcliffs were members of First United Church in Oak Park where he served as a Deacon. 

They owned a home on Lake Michigan near Macatawa, and moved there after retirement. For many years, they spent winters at their second home in Sarasota, Florida. In 2012 they moved to Freedom Village, a retirement home in Holland. 

Dick Ratcliff was a thoughtful, intelligent, open minded and judicious person. He lived robustly, laughed heartily and loved deeply. He had Alzheimer's disease in the last years of his life and retained his sense of humor and love of music until the end. 

Preceding him in death were his parents, Kathryn and Elwood Ratcliff, and his older brother Robert Ratcliff.

He is survived by his wife, Patty; their three children, Tom Ratcliff, Kate Ratcliff, and David Ratcliff; three grandchildren, Patrick Schneeweis, Michael Schneeweis, and Maxwell Ratcliff; and his sister, Sandra Caswell.

A memorial service will be held on April 14 at the Dykstra Funeral Home Mulder Chapel in Holland, Michigan. Visitation will begin at 1 p.m., followed by a 2 p.m. service.

In lieu of flowers, gifts in Dick's memory are suggested to Hospice of Holland, 270 Hoover Blvd., Holland, MI 49423.

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