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Life Story / Obituary
Patricia Cullen Ratcliff died peacefully on March 21, 2020, at the age of 87.
Patty was born March 26, 1933, in Chicago, to Margaret and Max Cullen. She grew up in River Forest where she spent her childhood climbing trees, befriending neighborhood animals, and frequenting the library across the street. She graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School in 1950, and attended college at DePauw University where she joined the Alpha Phi sorority and completed an Elementary Education Major in 1954.
In 1956, she married Dick Ratcliff. They grew up three blocks from each other and were two years apart in high school, but did not meet until Patty was teaching in Indianapolis and Dick was in law school at the University of Michigan. While Dick was in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, the newlyweds spent a few wonderful years stationed in Virginia and California before returning to make a home in Oak Park and then River Forest.
In addition to being a devoted wife and mother of three, Patty was an active volunteer. She was one of the founders of the Children’s Memorial Hospital West Suburban Guild, and served as its President from 1969-1971. The Ratcliffs were active members of the First United Church in Oak Park and the River Forest Tennis Club. When Patty’s youngest child went to high school, she returned to the classroom and taught kindergarten at Lincoln School in River Forest from 1976 to 1992. She was an avid birdwatcher who loved teaching the children to identify songbirds.
Patty and Dick owned a home on Lake Michigan near Macatawa, Michigan and moved there after retirement. For many years, they spent winters at their second home in University Park, Sarasota, Florida. In 2012 they moved to Freedom Village, a retirement home in Holland, Michigan.
Patty was a kind and generous person, full of life and quick to laugh. She was a fun loving hostess who enjoyed giving house parties at their vacation home in Macatawa and a dedicated sports fan who loved the Bears and the Bulls. She was a thoughtful friend who never forgot to send a birthday or get well card. She loved animals, especially dogs, and after retirement she rescued two special needs dogs. She had Alzheimer’s disease in the last years of her life and retained her kindness and sense of humor until the end. Patty Cullen Ratcliff was treasured by all who knew her and will be missed beyond measure.
Preceding Patty in death was her beloved husband of 63 years, Dick Ratcliff, and her parents, Margaret and Max Cullen.
She is survived by her three children, Tom Ratcliff of Holland, Michigan, Kate Ratcliff of Marlboro, Vermont, and David Ratcliff of Muskegon, Michigan; three grandchildren, Patrick Schneeweis of New York City, Michael Schneeweis of Gainesville, Florida, and Maxwell Ratcliff of Grandville, Michigan; her sister Susan Cartland-Bode of La Grange Park, Illinois, and her best friend Nancy May Woulfe of Chicago, Illinois.
In lieu of flowers, gifts in Patty’s memory are suggested to Hospice of Holland, 270 Hoover Blvd., Holland, MI 49423, or The Sarasota Audobon Society, 999 Center Road, Sarasota, FL 34240.
A memorial service for Patty’s life will be held at a future date.