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Jean Ratzlaff
(03-04-1950 - 10-01-2019)

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On October 1, 2019, Jean Ratzlaff, of Elgin, Illinois, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 69. She will be forever remembered and deeply missed by family, friends, and all who knew her.
Jean was born on March 4, 1950. On August 9, 1969, she married Larry Ratzlaff, and they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year. In 1974 and 1976, they welcomed two daughters, Jill and Lynn.
Dubbed “Queen Jean” by her next-door neighbor many years ago, she lived up to the title as the strong-willed matriarch of the family.
Jean felt extremely blessed to be able to stay home with her children until they were in middle school. She regularly volunteered at First Baptist Church, as a Girl Scout leader, and at her children’s schools, where she met her best friend, Nancy.
Jean then worked as an office manager for 20 years handling clerical duties and dispatching trucks at a sanitation company. She had an extensive knowledge of the streets and blocks for multiple cities in our area long before the Internet. She eventually hung up her dispatch microphone, retiring in 2008.
Jean had been active in the Elgin Cold Ducks Snowmobile Club for more than 40 years, serving on the club’s board as treasurer for the past five years. She and Larry have traveled extensively to many of the good snow areas each year, enjoying the beauty of the snow-covered landscapes.
She and Larry were also avid campers. In their early years together, they traveled by motorcycle and slept in a tent. Over the years, they transitioned to a pickup truck towing a pop-up camper. Later, they moved up to a motorhome. Jean loved seeing different parts of the United States. She also loved visiting the Disney parks, taking numerous trips to Walt Disney World and Disneyland over the years with her family and her friends.
Jean couldn’t pass up a bargain. She never met a piece of Corning Ware cookware that she didn’t like, and has amassed an enormous quantity of pans, pots, and bakeware. Her collection is now in the loving hands of Larry, who isn’t quite sure what to do with it all.
Jean especially loved the days and nights that her grandchildren would spend at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for sleepovers, bonfires, cookouts, and their much-anticipated “Fun On Wheels” annual go-kart race weekends.
She made the most of every minute with her family and felt that being a mother and grandmother was her truest purpose in life. Creative to the core, and without notice, she could whip up reindeer-shaped pancakes or Halloween mummy hot dogs at the request of her grandchildren. She was continuously called upon to do another craft with them, and she’d immediately scrounge up the supplies to make it happen.
She felt extremely blessed that her children and grandchildren continued to live close by and that they saw each other often. It's very hard for her family to think about learning to navigate this world without her in it.
Jean is survived by her husband and soulmate, Larry Ratzlaff; her children, Jill (Doug) Cataldo and Lynn (Kevin) Peto; five grandchildren: Angelica, Benjamin, and William Cataldo; and Lola and Layla Peto; her sisters, Judy (Dale) Maxwell and Bonnie Lancaster, and their families; and her mother, Erna Houdek.
Visitation will be held at Laird Funeral Home, 310 S. State Street, Elgin, Illinois on Sunday, October 6th from 3:00pm-7:00pm.
A memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church, 1735 W. Highland Avenue, Elgin, on Monday, October 7th at 11:00am.
Burial will follow at the Memorial Washington Reformed Presbyterian Cemetery, Elgin.
Memorial donations in Jean’s name may be made to the Elgin Salvation Army: https://centralusa.salvationarmy.org/elgin

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