John D. Ratzlaff ’70 , of West Salem, Oregon, passed away on Thursday, January 7. He was born on November 18, 1947 in Omaha, Nebraska, the son of Alvin and Elvera Ratzlaff. John grew up on the family farm in Orienta, Oklahoma. He attended Orienta Elementary School and later graduated from Oklahoma Bible Academy. He graduated with his BA from Grace Bible Institute, where he met his sweetheart Dee. John and Dee married on September 12, 1970, in Mountain Lake, Minnesota. In faith, they moved to Oregon in 1971 where John had been hired as the first Youth Pastor at the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Church in Dallas. In 1974, they moved to West Salem and John started his career with State Farm Insurance. John was past president of West Salem Rotary and the West Salem Business Association. He was also past board chair at Salem Academy and a past board member of the Salem Free Clinics. John was an active member of Salem Alliance Church.
John’s faith in Jesus Christ was the most important thing to him, and he reflected that by the way he loved people. He would invite people into his office and talk about hot rods, family, and occasionally insurance. John enjoyed boating on Detroit Lake and teaching people how to water ski. Classic car shows gave him the opportunity to spend time with his high school buddies, and again, visit with people.
John was very proud of his sons and loved his grandchildren. He made it a priority to be present at their sporting events and programs. When people were in his presence, John always made them feel important.
He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Dee; sons Mitch (Kelleigh) Ratzlaff and Travis (Brandee) Ratzlaff, along with his grandchildren Connor, Grant, Logan, Cole & Hailey. He leaves behind his brother, Stanley Ratzlaff and sister, Ruth Buller.