Betty Jane Ratzlaff, 78, of Valley Center, was welcomed home into the arms of Jesus on November 23, 2019. She was born on May 9, 1941, at Goessel Hospital to Henry and Olga (Schmidt) Pankratz. Betty was one of seven children. She grew up attending Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church and was baptized there on May 20, 1956. She attended Antioch Grade School and later Goessel High School; she graduated in 1959. Betty met her future husband at Goessel High School during seventh grade at a Mennonite Revival in the high school gymnasium.
On June 9, 1962, she married Robert K. Ratzlaff, also of Goessel, at the Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church in Goessel. They first lived in Newton until Betty finished college, moved for a few years to Wichita and then in 1967 they moved into their current home in Valley Center. In 1971,·they welcomed their first child, Keith, and seven years later ,they were blessed with their daughter Tammy.
Betty graduated in 1963 from Bethel College in North Newton with her education degree. She then taught third grade for seven years at Cloud Elementary, and then she taught preschool for 35 years at Valley Center preschool with her son Keith and nephew Greg Bergen being part of the inaugural class.
Betty has been a member of Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church since 1963; she was an active member and enjoyed teaching Sunday school and house church.
On Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, four years to the day of her passing, Betty was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer.
Betty is survived by her husband Robert Ratzlaff of Valley Centers; her son Keith (Nicole) Ratzlaff and their children Davis, Carson and Harper of Olath; and her daughter Tammy (Jake) Gunden and their children, Addalyn and Braylen of Hesston. She is also survived by her best friend and sister Joyce (Dan) Bergen of Goessel, her sister Ruth Penner of Hillsboroand her brother Eldon (Eva) Pankratz of Hillsboro,. Betty also is survived by many nieces, nephews, friends and families of children she was blessed to teach.
Betty was preceded in death by her parents, her sisters Evelyn, Fern and Violet, her in-laws Wilbur and Viola Ratzlaff, her brother-in-law Willis Penner and sister-in-law Ardith Pankratz.
The family wishes to thank the many care givers for their care and support: Dr.’s Johnson, Deutsh, Wiens and to Harry Hynes Hospice, to Frank and Peggy Griffith, special friends and neighbors of Betty, and to the loving and caring staff of Bethesda, they were such a blessing in Betty’s final days.
Visitation will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, 655 S. Lorraine St., Wichita, KS 67211, and light refreshments will be offered.
A memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at Valley Center United Methodist Church, 560 North Park Avenue, Valley Center. Pastor Ju, along with Scott Litwiller and Christina Manero from Lorraine Mennonite, will officiate.
Graveside services will be held with immediate family at a separate time. Betty’s final resting place will be in the memorial garden at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church Cemetery, 11700 E. 85th St. N., Valley Center, (85th and Greenwich).
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Valley Center Methodist Preschool, 560 N. Park, Valley Center, KS, 67147. The family would like to offer improvements to the school’s playground in her honor, because nothing made Ms. Betty happier than seeing children play.
Condolences may be left for the family at www.bakerfhvc.