Sidney Ratzlaff

June 5, 1922 - June 16, 2020

Sidney Warren Ratzlaff was born in Highmore, South Dakota, June 5, 1922, to Isaac and Eva (Boese) Ratzlaff at their home 10 miles south of Highmore. He grew up on a farm, attended the South Eagle Township Elementary School near his home, and graduated from Highmore High School in 1940. He was the third from youngest of eighteen children.

Sidney served his country during WWII from November 1942 to January 1946 as a medical technician in the 80th Armored Medical Battalion, of the 10th Armored Division of Patton’s 3rd Army. His unit served in France and Germany in WWII; notably he was a medic during the Battle of the Bulge and was awarded a Bronze Star during that time, for “exceptional performance of duty as a Dental Technician during the period 1 November 1944 to 7 May 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States in the European Theater of Operations.”

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Throughout his time overseas he wrote to and fell in love with a wartime pen-pal named Billee Townsend of Ocean City, New Jersey, and after he was honorably discharged, they got married on June 12, 1946. To this union six children were born during the family’s residing in New Jersey, South Dakota, and Oregon. Sid spent almost 67 years with Billee as his wife and best friend until her death in 2013.

While on the East Coast, Sidney and Billee had children Stephen and Daniel. He worked odd jobs while attending the University of Delaware and the Kings College in Delaware and earned his Bachelor of Arts in Teaching from Kings College in 1951. He earned a Master of Arts in Education from the University of South Dakota in 1955.

The family moved to South Dakota in 1951 where Sidney got his first teaching job in a one-room schoolhouse in Hyde County and then spent two years teaching at Ree Heights. The family then moved to Klamath Falls, Oregon, in 1954, where Sidney first started teaching in Fairhaven before becoming a history and science teacher at Altamont Junior High School. He liked to tell the story of a girl at Fairhaven with a glass eye who’d take it out and roll it down the aisle to create a disturbance. David, Mark, Dona and Carol were all born in the 10 years spent in Klamath Falls.

Sidney then got a superintendent position in the Crane School District in Oregon, and was also principal and history teacher at Crane High School. He witnessed the burning down of the Crane High School in 1967 and the subsequent rebuild.

Sidney took another administrative position in the Elgin, Oregon, school district in 1969, and they built their own home there outside of town in 1970. In 1974 Sidney took another administrative position at Umapine School District, retiring in 1980 back to the Elgin home.

Sid and Billee maintained their beautiful home and 30 acres of property, where his kids and grandkids loved to visit. He made his famous apple cider and apple sauce annually, ran daily for exercise up the hill, and tinkered around the property, maintaining fences, the well, cutting firewood, etc. In October 2010 he moved to youngest daughter Carol's home in Boise, Idaho, to be with Billee who was already convalescing there.

The most important thing in Sidney’s life was his relationship with Jesus Christ as his savior. He was saved on January 4, 1939, through a visiting evangelist and brought that faith with him throughout the war and his life. His faith was one of the aspects that particularly appealed to Billee when they were just pen pals, and together he and Billee brought their children up in Christ. He loved God, his wife and his kids and was involved in any church he was a member of, at times a Sunday school teacher or church deacon, and always a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ.

Sidney passed on June 16, 2020, in Boise, Idaho, at the age of 98. Sidney was preceded in death by his wife, Billee, and is survived by four sons, Stephen of Tucson, Arizona, Daniel (Jeanette) of Tucson, Arizona, David of Elgin, Oregon, Mark (Margie) of Eugene, Oregon, and two daughters, Dona (Gregor) of Elgin, Oregon, and Carol (Robert) of Boise, Idaho. He also has seven grandchildren, Laura, Emily, Ben (Erica), Aimee (Tommy), Kristina (Joseph), Rachel (Steven), and Mark, and five great-grandchildren, Isaac, Ava, Eliana, Kaison, and Maggie.

He was also preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, Leroy, Gilbert, Alvin, Leslie, Arnold, Orville, and Willis; and sisters, Clara, Esther, Rosa, Ida, Virginia, Florence, Mary, and Ruby.

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