Willis Charles Ratcliff

Published 9:11 pm Sunday, February 24, 2013


Willis Charles Ratcliff, 87, set sail on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, on his final voyage to visit his old shipmates from the USS Prometheus and to join other old friends and family. He was a veteran of WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He joined the US Navy in November 1942, as soon as he turned 17. In January 1943, he sailed from San Diego on the transport ship, Rochambeau, to New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Being a strong athletic southern youth accustomed to rugged outdoor life he was initially chosen for training as a commando. That unit trained for a short time but was disbanded because of the high casualty rate being encountered by other Navy commando units. He was then assigned to the USS Prometheus on which he served for more than two years in the Pacific Theater of World War II. On the Prometheus, he learned metalworking and welding, skills he later practiced for many years. He was on shore patrol in downtown Seattle on the day Japan surrendered. He could never forget the reaction of the city upon hearing the news. When people began pouring out of the buildings to celebrate, his unit was advised to stand back and not interfere.

He was predeceased by his wife, Myrtle Eloise Hoover; his parents, James Felix Ratcliff and Lola Leritia Seal Ratcliff; and his brother, James Benjamin Ratcliff.

He is survived by his older sister, Vivian Lucille Ratcliff Cooper (“The Commander-in-Chief”); nine nieces and nephews; his first cousin, Houston H. Seal; and many other wonderful cousins.

He was proud to have nephew Charles Cooper as his namesake and often enjoyed the numerous lively discussions he had with another nephew, Thomas Cooper. He felt that he was fortunate to have the frequent companionship of his great-nephew, Brian Cooper and his wife, Maria, in his final years. He lived for the past several years at the Southwest Louisiana War Veterans Home, where he felt he was extremely fortunate to have many friends among the residents and employees, several of whom visited with him in his final days and made his departure more bearable.

Visitation was held Saturday, Feb. 23 at Poole-Ritchie Funeral Home from 5-8 p.m. Graveside services will be held on Sunday at 11 a.m. at Seal Cemetery.

To view and sign online, visit pooleritchiefuneralhome.com.