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Ratzlaff, Harold (1911-2006) | Mennonite Archival Commons

Name: Ratzlaff, Harold (1911-2006)

Historical Note:

obituary from <em>Mennonite Weekly Review</em>, 27 Feb 2006 p. 10:

Harold Ratzlaff, who dedicated his career to mission work in India as an evangelist, educator and administrator, died Feb. 10. He was 94.

Ratzlaff served in India from 1940-76 with the General Conference Mennonite Church mission board.

He was born April 27, 1911, to Jacob C. and Mary Becker Ratzlaff on a farm near Meno, Okla. After graduating from Bethel College in North Newton, he married Ruth Regier, a nurse, on Sept. 3, 1938.

A. E. Kreider, a Bible teacher at Bethel and chair of the GC mission board, invited Ratzlaff to a mission board meeting. There, board members told him, "We want you to go to India as a missionary."

He and Ruth accepted that call and furthered their studies at Hartford (Conn.) Seminary where he completed a bachelor of divinity degree.

In 1940, the Ratzlaffs went to India and began studying the Hindi language. They began their first assignments at Champa, where he was placed in charge of evangelism in that district, and she was hospital administrator. In 1945, they transferred to Jagdeeshpur to be responsible for district evangelism and church work.

"I was assigned to visit the already established district churches, with the help of Indian pastors and evangelists," Ratzlaff wrote.

Their first return to the United States was from 1947-50. During that time he completed a master's degree in theology from Mennonite Biblical Seminary, affiliated with Bethany Biblical Seminary in Chicago. His thesis was titled, "Planting a Church in India."

The Ratzlaffs returned to Champa, which expanded to indclude the Mauhadi area. Later, he alternately managed all the mission schools in Korba and Champa.

Working together with Lubin and Tillie Jantzen, they began English-language schools, which are still in operation. He continued with school administration until their time in India ended in 1976, when they retired in Newton.

"He was whole-hearted. If he did a job, he did it right," Lubin Jantzen said.

His wife, Ruth, died Feb. 16, 1992. He was preceded in death by infant son Harold Eugene; daughter Mary Ann Jensen; and granddaughter Sharon Jensen. He is survived by a grandson, Frederick Jensen of Amherst, N. Y.; and son-in-law Gary Jensen of Lake Jackson, Texas.

Ratzlaff was a member of Bethel College Mennonite Church in North Newton.

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