Thomas (Tom) Edward Ratzlaff, 69 of Newton, passed away on Wednesday, May 31,2023 at his home in Newton. Tom was born on August 7,1953 to Richard and Velma (Schwartz) Ratzlaff in Chicago, Illinois.
The family moved from Chicago to Holland, Pennsylvania when Tom was two. This is where Tom spent his early childhood and elementary school years. His parents gave Tom and his brother Tim many opportunities to develop their huge interest in sports, music, travel, and history. When Tom was ten the family moved to Liberal, Kansas, this move brought them closer to their Pretty Prairie family. Tom’s interest in and participation grew in sports and music. He had started violin lessons in Holland and continued them in Liberal. He played on both baseball and football teams there where he honed his skills. Tom played alongside his brother, Tim, in both baseball and football. They brought out the best in each other’s skills in these sports. Tom finished Junior High in Liberal. They moved to Hutchinson where Tom attended Hutchinson High School. Here he continued playing his violin in the High School orchestra. He also played on the football team. He also participated in wrestling and golf. After graduating from Hutchinson High School in 1971, he then attended Bethel College in North Newton, where he studied Psychology and Religion and was an Offensive Lineman on the football team. Once again, the brothers played together on the Bethel College Sports Hall of Fame (1975) team.
After college, Tom met Donna Jacobs through some mutual friends. It wasn’t long before they both knew that they would spend their life together. On May 16, 1981, Tom and Donna were married by Tom’s Dad at the Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine, Kansas. They then made their home in Newton.
Tom’s work life stayed with Newton businesses including PreStress Concrete, Windsor Mobile Homes, Weyerhauser Lumber and Mennonite Press. He retired from Mennonite Press as Bindery Supervisor in March 2016.
In his lifetime, he enjoyed many and varied interests. Golfing has been his lifelong love. He played, watched it and even enjoyed making golf clubs for family and friends. He was in golf leagues at both Hesston and Fox Ridge. Tom participated in many Memorial and Sponsored tournaments. He was known to enjoy a beer and cigar on the course. He enjoyed watching a lot of different sports. He was an avid fan of the Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Royals, Boston Celtics, and Wichita State Shockers. One year he had shoulder surgery during the Winter Olympics, that year he became a fan of Curling.
His love for music was lifelong. He had gone to many concerts in his life, from rock, jazz, classical. Donna joined in with his passion and they continued going to concerts whenever they could. He also enjoyed the Theatre and Tom and Donna had season tickets to Broadway productions in Wichita.
Other interests throughout his life include camping, hunting, fishing, photography, and travel. In retirement, Tom acquired other things he loved to do while Donna continued to work. He became active with gardening, cooking, and cleaning the house. He joked with friends that he didn’t mind being a kept man. He enjoyed cooking so much he would make meals for friends and family.
Tom served his family, friends, and community when he could. He served on the Safe Hope Board and was on the Administrative Council at Shalom Mennonite Church. He volunteered for the Make A Wish sponsored LPGA tournament at Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, The Walk for Wildlife at the Great Plains Nature Center, numerous Memorial Golf Tournaments and the 2023 Newton/ North Newton Garden Tour.
The most fun and enjoyable times were with our family and friends. The dinners, parties, card games, vacations, family events were so important to Tom. He truly loved spending time with people he loved.
Tom was a wonderful brother, husband, son, uncle, and friend. He will be truly missed by many.
Survivors include his wife – Donna and his fur babies – Scout and Ellie, brother – Tim of Newton, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
Visitation with the family will be held Friday, June 16th from 6pm to 8pm. The Memorial Service is scheduled for Saturday, June 17th at 10:30am with Rev. Donna Voteau and Rev. Tonya Ramer Wenger. Both will be at Trinity Heights United Methodist Church, 1200 Boyd Ave., Newton, KS 67114.
Memorial contributions may be made to Central Kansas Community Foundation – Hesston Junior Golf Fund 301 N. Main, Suite 200, Newton, Bethel College Athletics, North Newton or Caring Hands Humane Society, Newton, in care of Petersen Funeral Home, 215 N. Main St., Newton, KS 67114