Mr. Don Michael Ratcliff, Sr. was born in circa 1946 and passed away on October 23, 2018.
He was a native of Morgan City, Louisiana and a resident of Bourg, Louisiana.
I was not informed of his death on time, in fact, it wasn’t even a year ago that I had found out he had passed away at the time I am writing this.
The only way I was made aware of his passing was by attempting to friend request him on Facebook, but never getting an acceptance. So, I eventually contacted his daughter, Gena Ratcliff Thornhill, who informed me of the sad and troubling news.
She and I subsequently exchanged a few messages about how awesome of a person he was.
Mr. Don proudly served his country in the United States Navy, then afterward worked as a highly-skilled electrician.
In later years, he became the groundskeeper at my high school, Vandebilt Catholic High.
That is how I was able to get to know him.
He and I shared many interests.
We both were into electronics and he even taught me some of the basics about it, such as how the Standing Wave Ratio of antennas feedlines and their connections works. He spoke to me in detail about his mother’s old police scanner, obviously a crystal controlled model. He taught me about the microwave relay dishes mounted on the various communications towers that dot our land. At one point he was into Citizen’s Band Radio using the handle, “D-Rat.” As mentioned before in other posts on this blog, he collected calculators, like me, and always wanted to see what calculator I was carrying for my schoolwork. From his daughter, I learned that he was a Mathematical genius and probably could have taught it at Vandebilt, if he had the credentials (he definitely had the competence.) She also mentioned that he would solve frequently complicated math equations just for fun.
I later worked with him and the rest of the maintenance crew in the Summer of 2005 and he is the one who got me to eat sardines and Vienna sausages on the regular.
He carried an electrician’s knife on his person at all times and his daughter also told me how much he liked that knife.
I also remember him frequently keeping a loaf of Evangeline Maid sliced white bread, a Creole Tomato, and a bottle of yellow mustard in the boiler room. Many times for lunch, in addition to his Brunswick Sardines or Libby’s Vienna Sausage, he would slice that Creole tomato with his electrician’s knife of his and place the slices between two pieces of bread with mustard. Believe it or not, this simple but seemingly strange food combination is actually a delicious treat. I can’t for the life of me remember the brand of mustard he used. He would then use that electrician’s knife for every other task that required it. He is the reason why I carried an electrician’s knife for at least a few years and still have one in my tool satchel.
His style of dress was a tee shirt with a breast pocket, blue jeans, a Timex Easy Reader wristwatch, and a plaid shirt over his tee-shirt during cold weather. In the breast pocket of his tee-shirt was almost always a pack of Doral cigarettes. He also wore a ball cap that advertised one of the electrical supply houses that which he frequented.
We would exchange lots of jokes about various subjects.
One evening in December of 2005, I remember calling him on the phone to ask a question on the electrical specifications of an aftermarket AC adaptor that I planned to purchase for my laptop and he was able to properly advise me. I then ordered the adaptor and it powered my laptop perfectly.
I never knew of his passing until over a year later and I wish Vandebilt’s administration or public relations personnel would have properly informed the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of it. I would have wanted to know so I could attend his memorial, as I truly looked up to him.
What’s done is unfortunately done, though.
All in all, Rest in Peace Mr. Don.
I enjoyed and benefitted from all that you taught me, it was an honor to work with you and it was fun to be around you!