Obituary: Henry Ratke


95, of Clinton

  • Obituary: Henry Ratke
    Obituary: Henry Ratke

A funeral service will be held for Henry Ratke on Tuesday, June 9, at 2:00 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Clinton. Interment will be at Hatchett Cemetery in Bessie, under the direction of the Kiesau-Lee Funeral Home with military honors.

Henry was born on Nov. 15, 1924, to Reinholdt and Ernestina (Reuther) Ratke in Wichita Falls, Texas, and passed away from this life to eternal glory on June 4, 2020, at the OU Medical Center. Henry was 95 and was part of what has been named "The Greatest Generation" and he carried it off with a "dash."

Henry moved back to Oklahoma with his family in early 1926. He attended school in Clinton, Stafford and Foss. He furthered his education during his military career through Texas A&M University, the Air Force's Air University and multiple Air Force technical schools, in which he later taught.

Henry married the love of his life, Ruby Ann (Schmidt) Ratke on Dec. 31, 1948. Their marriage exemplified God's ideal marriage and they served each other until the time of her death. God blessed their marriage with two sons, Michael and Paul. Henry was given the best gift one can receive when he received the gift of God's forgiveness and rebirth through the waters of Holy Baptism on Dec. 6, 1964. A favorite bible passage of Henry's was Romans 1:16, "I have complete confidence in the gospel; it is God's power to save all who believe."

During his time here on earth, he lived a life of service to God, family, and country and served as an inspiration to those who he met. He began his Air Force career in the US Army-Air Corp at the end of WWII as a special investigator in the military police. After leaving the service he returned home to Clinton. However, after only a brief time he was reactivated into the service of his country in the US Air Force at the beginning of the Korean war. This took him to many places including: San Antonio, Texas, Amarillo, Texas, Osaka, Japan, Altus, Fairbanks, Alaska, Kansas City, Mo., Peshawar, Pakistan, Wichita Falls, Texas, Viet Nam and Sumer, S.C., where he retired from the military at Shaw Air Force Base after 23 years of service.

While in Amarillo and Al-tus, he and Ruby operated mobile home dealerships which kept Ruby busy full-time and Henry busy in the evenings and on weekends. After retiring from the Air Force, Henry and his family moved to Irving, Texas, where he was an instructor for the North Central Texas Council of Governments. Shortly thereafter, he went to work for the newly created U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he used his civil engineering skill to help clear pollution from the nation's water by reviewing grants and inspecting water and wastewater construction projects across a five-state area.

In 1978, Henry's hometown, Clinton, received a multi-million dollar grant to construct a new wastewater treatment facility and pipeline system. Henry was asked to move home and supervise the construction and operation of the new facility. He moved his family back to the family farm west of Bessie where he and Ruby lived the rest of their lives. During his 11-year tenure with the City of Clinton, the new facility won state and national recognition for its performance and environmental impact. During this time, he also pursued his passion for teaching others as an instructor in numerous classes concerning water and wastewater treatment for the Oklahoma Water and Pollution Control Association. He was a member of the OWPCA and served as president of its "Double A club," which is reserved for the select few with the highest state credential in both water and wastewater management. For a time, he served as President of the OWPCA itself. During his term as President he and the OWPCA were recognized by then Governor George Nigh for their contributions to clean water in Oklahoma. While living near Bessie he also farmed and raised cattle, something he truly loved and did until he retired, following Ruby's passing in 2016.

Henry talked about dancing to the car radio with Ruby when they found out each of their sons were on the way. Michael was born while Henry was stationed in Kansas City and Paul later during his tour at Wichita Falls.

As Henry moved from his military career to civilian life, he was able to be very involved in his son's early lives. He coached baseball, soccer, football and basketball and loved to bowl, hunt and fish. He passed along his passion for family along to his sons along with the love for many of the activities they shared. Henry was active in his church's life and was a member of Trinity Lutheran in Clinton where he held many congregational offices. He also volunteered at the Mission House in Clinton serving meals and helping others.

Once Michael and Paul had made their own way in the world, he and Ruby volunteered many hours at the Clinton VA center working in the clothing room and helping with special events that were put on for the veterans living there. Henry and Ruby were still delivering Meals on Wheels to the elderly in Clinton when they themselves were both well past 80. Everyone that met him, even for a little bit, soon found out that he was proud of his sons, and their families.

Henry is survived by his son Michael and wife Donna of Farwell, Texas, and their children Austin, Mitchell and Meredith; and by son Paul and his wife Jane of Edmond, and their children Madelynn, Luke, Adam and Seth.

Henry was preceded in death by his wife Ruby; his parents; brothers Johnny; Robert and Jake; sisters Maggie and Christina; and his granddaughter Lauren.

Henry was loved and cared for during this last year by two very special people. Amber Hallaba and Ty Alexander. Amber and Ty were his constant companions and assisted him as he continued to live at home with his dog Buster. His family expresses a strong gratitude that can never be repaid for the care and compassion they were able to share with Henry.

Memorials can be made to the Henry Ratke Legacy Fund c/o Trinity Lutheran Church, 440 South 13th, Clinton, Oklahoma 73601 or to the Clinton Mission House 300 S. 7th St, Clinton, OK 73601.