ForeverMissed
This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Howard Ratzlaff, 88 years old, born on October 19, 1932, and passed away on February 17, 2021. We will remember him forever.
Posted by Daniel G on March 31, 2021
I've known Howard since I was knee high to a grasshopper. There are many things you can say about this wonderful man. Honestly, I did not get to see him a great deal because we never lived in the same state. However, He is probably the most intelligent and patient person I ever met and had impact on my life.
When I was a kid, I remember going to his home and he would always have something interesting planned. He had these little projects set up for us kids to do and it was always exciting. I remember all the gadgets he made for doing work faster and easier like the piece of equipment he attached to his riding mower to pick up leaves. He made this himself and I was always amazed at his abilities. When I became a young man I remember he took interest in my life and what I was doing...He is such a great listener.. He was a perfect example of someone having one mouth and two ears, He listened twice as much as he talked. When I became a man... okay.. old man... I always enjoyed our conversations. Howard listened with intent and treated you as if you were the most important person at that moment. Hard quality to find in folks nowadays. It's honestly one of the things I think and reflect about the most of Howard. So sincere, patient and meaningful conversation. Actually inspires me to be a better man.... A man like Howard who followed the example of Christ.  
Posted by HC Maxson on March 29, 2021
He was a good neighbor. I have had enjoyed peaceful neighborhood relationship and build a friendship.  I still taste our last meeting for sharing persimmon cake that Linda made. I wished him long life but I didnt expect losing a good neighbor suddenly. We will miss him cutting his lawns and burning tree branches on his property. That was a joy for his retired life from my view and I admired him for keeping up his happiness being active. Nothing last forever but memories will. 
Posted by Glenn Gross on March 28, 2021
When we think about those with whom we shared some moments of our life, we have pictures in our mind of the struggles they must have had to face.
Those struggles bring out the real person, whose character is manifested by the ability to be compassionate toward others.
I always thought that compassion was what I observed in Howard. It worked well in drawing all of his dear ones near to him, so they could share time with him and the others.
This isn’t an easy thing to do in families where strong willed parents are in charge. Love must be the ruling characteristic if effective unity is to be the defining attribute.
He was a teacher who cared for his ‘little ones’. They followed because they could see genuine love in his heart for them.
We hope that love can be a legacy for all of us as we await our final day.
Uncle Glenn
Posted by Karen M klinefelter on March 28, 2021
Beautiful way to honor your father. He was a wonderful person and loved by all. So sorry for your Loss and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family
Posted by Sharon Bear on March 28, 2021
What a beautiful memorial of Uncle Howard!!! What a life and what love he put forth into this world that will carry on so long after him! 
I have many memories of Uncle Howard from all the visits to his home in Illinois, but my favorite is the time he took the family camping to Fish Lake in Wisconsin and they were gracious enough to take me with them. It was the first time I learned what a sandbar was, the first time I had ever camped and the first time ever that food, specifically Uncle Howard’s scrambled eggs, tasted SO good. It remains one of the happiest trips of my life!
I also will remember a time that Uncle Howard, Aunt Linda and my mother came to our home for dinner and I think we had spaghetti and meatballs and a raspberry custard pie. He ate this simple, humble meal with such relish and enjoyment.  And he said the pie reminded him of his childhood. And he took seconds. His appreciation of that meal was one of the greatest compliments I’ve had as a hostess.
And of course, I will carry in years to come the love between Uncle Howard and Aunt Linda. Their many laughs together and the kindness, love and appreciation they had for one another. 
To all his family, I hope you can feel his presence in your lives and feel the peace knowing he will always be with you! ❤️
Posted by Meggan Ratzlaff on March 27, 2021
It was so great spending time with Howard, he always made us laugh! He was always so focused on the kids - we will miss him so much!!
Posted by Rachel Timmermans on March 27, 2021
I liked watching the birds with Opa, eating ice cream, trailer rides and playing with him and when he would come to our house. I also liked eating dinner with him. I also liked sitting in his favorite brown chair with him. (Jacob Timmermans, grandson 5 years old)
Posted by Rachel Timmermans on March 27, 2021
He was awesome. And I loved all his trailer rides. And I also like having sleep overs at his house . And having Ice cream with him. -Julia Timmermans (granddaughter 8 years old)
Posted by Judith Vogelzang on March 27, 2021
Dear Linda, Rachel, Erik and family,

We met Howard and Linda when we visited Erik and Rachel. We remember him as a very warm and hospitable person. We know he was a great husband, dad, father in law and opa. He will be missed. We wish Linda, Rachel, Erik, Julia, Jacob, Liam and all his children and grandchildren all the strength.

Love,

Maurits, Judith, Willem and Cato Timmermans
Posted by Rachel Timmermans on March 26, 2021
He was my best Opa. He would give us trailer rides and we would have ice cream with him. I love him. Liam Timmermans (Grandson, 5 years old)

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Daniel G on March 31, 2021
I've known Howard since I was knee high to a grasshopper. There are many things you can say about this wonderful man. Honestly, I did not get to see him a great deal because we never lived in the same state. However, He is probably the most intelligent and patient person I ever met and had impact on my life.
When I was a kid, I remember going to his home and he would always have something interesting planned. He had these little projects set up for us kids to do and it was always exciting. I remember all the gadgets he made for doing work faster and easier like the piece of equipment he attached to his riding mower to pick up leaves. He made this himself and I was always amazed at his abilities. When I became a young man I remember he took interest in my life and what I was doing...He is such a great listener.. He was a perfect example of someone having one mouth and two ears, He listened twice as much as he talked. When I became a man... okay.. old man... I always enjoyed our conversations. Howard listened with intent and treated you as if you were the most important person at that moment. Hard quality to find in folks nowadays. It's honestly one of the things I think and reflect about the most of Howard. So sincere, patient and meaningful conversation. Actually inspires me to be a better man.... A man like Howard who followed the example of Christ.  
Posted by HC Maxson on March 29, 2021
He was a good neighbor. I have had enjoyed peaceful neighborhood relationship and build a friendship.  I still taste our last meeting for sharing persimmon cake that Linda made. I wished him long life but I didnt expect losing a good neighbor suddenly. We will miss him cutting his lawns and burning tree branches on his property. That was a joy for his retired life from my view and I admired him for keeping up his happiness being active. Nothing last forever but memories will. 
Posted by Glenn Gross on March 28, 2021
When we think about those with whom we shared some moments of our life, we have pictures in our mind of the struggles they must have had to face.
Those struggles bring out the real person, whose character is manifested by the ability to be compassionate toward others.
I always thought that compassion was what I observed in Howard. It worked well in drawing all of his dear ones near to him, so they could share time with him and the others.
This isn’t an easy thing to do in families where strong willed parents are in charge. Love must be the ruling characteristic if effective unity is to be the defining attribute.
He was a teacher who cared for his ‘little ones’. They followed because they could see genuine love in his heart for them.
We hope that love can be a legacy for all of us as we await our final day.
Uncle Glenn
his Life

Howard R. Ratzlaff



Howard Ray Ratzlaff, was born October 19, 1932 on a farm near Jansen, Nebraska to David and Katherine (Friesen) Ratzlaff.  He was the youngest of six children.  His siblings (preceded in death) included Helen, Irvin, Grayce, Elmer and Harold.   

As a family, they worked hard to keep the farm during the unforgiving Dust Bowl days. When Howard was just five years of age, his father David, passed away from Tuberculosis. It was during these trying times that his mother Katherine decided to make the bold trek to the Midwest with livestock in tow.  The family settled in Sterling, Illinois where other relatives also resided. 

Sterling, would serve as the location of the next chapter in years of farm life.  Howard often talked about working on the farm and beginning his days with a cup of coffee when he was just eight years old.  These days were just the beginning of a strong and life long work ethic.  

He grew up with a passion for educating himself and learning. He once read the entire collection of Encyclopedias. After graduating high school, he went on to join the United States Navy.  He served four years, where he was stationed in Monterey, California, Tennessee and Norfolk, Virginia.

After serving in the Navy, he was transferred to Rockford, Illinois where he joined I.B.M.  He advanced his way up to Advisory Specialist, where he worked for 30 years.  His resume was full of accomplishments, but his real joy was in finding the solution to problems. That brought him a lot of satisfaction.  It also made him our go to person when any of us had a problem that we needed fixed.  If he didn't have the answer, he would find it for us.  He was always so happy to be able to help. Some of the computers he originally worked on are now in Smithsonian Institute, in Washington, D.C. 

Aside from a long successful career, his other pride and joy was his loving wife and his family.  In 1966, he married  Linda Lou Gross, in Middlesex, Pennsylvania.  He always said he wanted to have a big family of his own one day and that he received.  He is survived by wife Linda and their six children Lee (wife Ana), Teri, Julie Hill (husband Mike), Jeannette, Steve, and Rachel Timmermans (husband Erik).  He was blessed with 14 grandchildren and six great grandchildren. 

In 1995, in his retirement years the family moved to North Carolina, where eventually all the family settled. 

He left behind many a sad heart, but so many gifts as well. He taught us the importance of hard work, honesty and integrity.  His love for nature was contagious, as was his appreciation for the simple things in life. His gentle kindness, quick wit and sense of humor, dependability and absolute love for his family will always remain in our hearts. 

His marriage to our mother was one of the greatest examples of love I have ever known.  They shared 54 years together and we will forever be touched by the strength of their love for each other to the very end.  Howard died in the early morning hours, next to his wife at home. (not Covid related). In his final days he was surrounded by the love and care of his family.  He stayed long enough for each of us to say our final goodbye.  A tribute was written by his loving wife....

"He was my beloved husband, best friend and sweet Howard.  I could not have asked for more in life.  Our ending of life together, painful as it was, could not have been more meaningful. 

We shared everyday together over this last year (during the Covid pandemic) often watching the birds, sitting on the porch or by the fairy garden, enjoying the beauty before us. The time was also filled with many cherished visits from family. We felt so grateful! 
One evening, not so long ago before he died he shared such deep, spiritual thoughts with so much humility, if it was as if he was seeing beyond of where we are now.  It was a gift I will always cherish and remember him with so much love." - Linda




Recent stories

Great Man

Shared by Shane Slaughter on April 2, 2021
I never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Ratzlaff, but I know his son, Steve. I know how great of a man Steve is, so I can only image how great of a man Howard was! His memory will certainly live on through his family. Prayers for the family as they walk through this difficult time together.