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Military Service

Robert S. Ratcliffe, 88, of Terre Haute, died at 10:55 a.m. Tuesday, June 24, 2008, at McGraw Community Hospice Center in Jacksonville, Fla., following a brief illness. He was a well known attorney and community leader in Terre Haute. He was born in Terre Haute on Oct. 25, 1919, to Walter Ratcliffe and Elizabeth Gray. He graduated from Wiley High School, Indiana State Teachers College, and received his master’s degree in speech and theater from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. After graduation, Mr. Ratcliffe taught high school English in Texas.

During World War II, he served with the U.S. Army's 97th Infantry Division; one of only two divisions to serve in both the European Theater and Asia Pacific Theater. In Europe the 97th Division served as part of General Patton's Third Army. There Ratcliffe participated in the Rhineland campaign, where he was promoted to the rank of sergeant, earned the Combat Infantry Badge, and later was awarded the Bronze Star. Following Germany's surrender he served with the 97th Division in the Philippines, and was part of the occupying forces in Japan following Japan's surrender.

On June 8, 1946, he married Constance Clough of Glencoe, Ill. He then attended the University of Michigan Law School, graduating in 1949. Mr. Ratcliffe began his 35 year law career in Terre Haute with the Dix Law Firm, later entering private practice. He was a leader in the community. He served as president of the Jaycees, president of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, president of the Covered Bridge Girl Scout Council, and was scoutmaster of Terre Haute Boy Scout Troop 8. In 1970 he was recognized for his contributions to Boy Scouts by receiving the Silver Beaver Award, the highest award bestowed by the Boy Scouts of America for volunteers. He was an emeritus member of the Board of Directors for the Union Hospital Foundation, Inc., emeritus director on the Indiana State University Board of Trustees, and director for Indiana State Bank (now Old National Bancorp). In addition, Ratcliffe organized and was the first president of the Terre Haute Little League. He later coached Little League and Babe Ruth baseball teams. He was active in Community Theater of Terre Haute and received several acting awards for his performances, including best actor awards for his portrayals of Henry Drummond in "Inherit the Wind", and Norman Thayer in "On Golden Pond." He enjoyed woodworking, carving, Civil War History, and camping.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and his sister, Ruth Ratcliffe.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Constance Ratcliffe; one daughter, Carol Alm of Parker, Colo.; two sons, Steve Ratcliffe of Bellevue, Wash., and Larry Ratcliffe of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.; and five grandchildren, Carrie Alm, Colin Ratcliffe, Carly Ratcliffe, Dana Ratcliffe, and David Ratcliffe.

All are invited to join in a celebration of his life to be held on Aug. 2, 2008, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Terre Haute Country Club, 47 Allendale. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Robert S. Ratcliffe Memorial Fund, c/o Wabash Valley Community Foundation, 2901 Ohio Boulevard, Suite 153, Terre Haute, IN 47803, with donations directed to the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Community Theater. Messages of condolence may be sent to the Ratcliffe Family at 171 Woodlands Creek Drive, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082.

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