Obituary: Ratcliff, Howard Everett

Age 87

RATCLIFF, Howard Everett Howard Ratcliff of Mount Vernon, WA, passed away peacefully on April 9, 2014 after a lengthy illness.

He was the beloved husband of Iola S. Mangels, long time- resident of LaConner.

He is also survived by his two sons Ron (Brenda) of Rhode Island and Jerry (Vicki) of Coulee Dam, WA, and his youngest sister Marlene White of Connell, WA.

Born February 20, 1927, in Bonner’s Ferry Idaho, he was one of five children born to Everett and Della Ratcliff.

He was preceded in death by Jean (Hawkins) Ratcliff, wife and mother of their two sons; a younger brother Gordon who died during early childhood; and his sisters Margaret Powell of Sandpoint, ID, and Dorothy Rose of Jerome, ID.

He was blessed with four grandchildren, Chad, Justin, Alexese and Jerilyn; and three great-grandchildren, Aliaha and Shaden (children of Jerilyn and Michael Capshaw), and Samuel Ratcliff (son of Justin and Michelle).

Like most of his generation, he served in the military (Navy) during WWII.

After the war, he returned to the northwest and found work with the Northern Pacific Railroad as telegrapher/station agent.

He worked for the NP, later the Burlington Northern, for 43 years.

Most of that time was spent in northern Idaho and western Montana where he and Jean raised their sons in Plains, MT.

He found his calling with the railroad…he loved the logic and challenge of moving trains ‘on down the line.’

At that he had no peer.

A bona fide hero, he was awarded the Carnegie Lifesaving Medal in 1965 for narrowly pulling a woman out of the way of an onrushing train.

When he retired in 1990 a fellow railroader paid him the highest tribute saying simply, “Howard Ratcliff retired today, the last of the true railroaders.”

He spent his last twenty years in the Skagit Valley of Western Washington.

He will be interred in Spokane, WA at the Memorial Gardens cemetery on September 5, 2014.


Click here to comment on this story »



Contact the Spokesman

Main switchboard:
(509) 459-5000
Customer service:
(509) 747-4422
(509) 459-5400
(800) 789-0029
Back to Spokesman Mobile