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 Leon Herman “Lee” Ratzlaff

Leon Herman “Lee” Ratzlaff

Henderson, York County, Nebraska, USA
Death 20 May 1998 (aged 78)
Henderson, York County, Nebraska, USA
Burial Henderson, York County, Nebraska, USA
Memorial ID 32582728 · View Source
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Father: Heinrich J. Ratzlaff 1887-1967
Mother: Anna Lenora Janzen 1895-1976

Baptized: 12 May 1940, Bethesda Mennonite Church, by Abraham W. Friesen.

Married: 30 Sep 1945 to Florice Jeanne Roark, Stevensville, Montana in the Federated Methodist Church.

Children: Terry Lee, Candice Jane, Bryan Clive.

Siblings: Malita Wanda, Elva Edna, Marvin Harvey, Zella Sabena, Alvina Mayetta, Leanna Maxine, Elfrieda June, Violet Ruby.

Leon Ratzlaff, 78, died May 20. Survivors: wife, Jeanne; sons Terry (Loretta), Bryan; daughter, Candice (Royce) Friesen; six grandchildren; two great-grandchildren. The funeral will be in the in the Henderson Mennonite Brethren Church.

Lee grew up on his parent's farm 4.5 miles South of Henderson, Nebraska. After graduation from high school he attended York College, York, Nebraska for one year. He then taught in a rural school for one year and three months until he was drafted.

Lee left for his 1W service on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day. He served in Camp 022-01 Henry, Illinois, Camp 035-01 North Fork, California, and Camp 103-01 Missoula, Montana. The majority of his service (1941-1945) was spent as a smoke jumper in the US Forest Service, CPS Unit 103-01, Huson, Montana. Lee's service number was 008298 and he served from 8 Dec 1941 to 19 Dec 1945.

While stationed in Missoula, Montana, he met Florice Jeanne Roark. They were married in the Federated Methodist Church in Stevensville, Montana, September 31, 1945. They were married shortly after the completion of his service.

Lee and Jeanne returned to Henderson where he farmed on his parents farm until it was sold. They continued to farm on other farms in the community including a farm near Stockham, Nebraska.

In 1954 they moved to Henderson where Lee worked in the local hardware store, drove a truck, and finally became the Manager of the Henderson Co-op.

Lee's last job was as a truck driver for York Manufacturing. It was on this job where he sustained a severe head injury due to a fall while loading his truck. He became paralyzed on one side of his body and lost his ability to speak.

Jeanne became his major caregiver for the rest of his life. Lee's spirit was always present at each family reunion even though he could not fully express himself. He was loved and he is missed.

Lee served in the US Forest Service as a Smoke Jumper from 1943 to 1945. He was stationed at Ninemile Valley, Camp Menard, Missoula, Montana.

Aunt Jeanne tells the story about Lee and his initial application to be a Smoke Jumper. There were height and weight qualifications for acceptance. In those days every farm boy was physically fit so that was not even tested! Lee made the height requirement (I'm guessing 5'8") but was on the skinny side. You had to weigh at least 135 lbs as the minimal accepted weight. Not wanting to take any chances, Lee went to the local grocery store and bought all the rationed bananas with the remaining money he had and ate them before his final physical. Jeanne thought it was over 5 lbs of bananas that he stuffed into himself. He was a man with a strong will and GI system.

Wikipedia article on Smoke Jumpers

this memorial sponsored by Dennis Quiring

Family Members

  • Maintained by: Dennis Quiring
  • Originally Created by: sing70
  • Added: 2 Jan 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 32582728
  • Dennis Quiring
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Leon Herman “Lee” Ratzlaff (31 Oct 1919–20 May 1998), Find A Grave Memorial no. 32582728, citing Bethesda Cemetery, Henderson, York County, Nebraska, USA ; Maintained by Dennis Quiring (contributor 47340753) .