OBITUARY: Bette Jean (Franz) Rhine

Bette Jean (Franz) Rhine, 78, of Hesston died Aug. 22, 2022, at Schowalter Villa in Hesston.

Bette was born Oct. 24, 1943, in Newton, the daughter of Walter and Olga (Woelk) Franz. She attended First Mennonite Church in Newton. Upon her confession of faith, she was baptized and became a member at 14 years of age.

She graduated from Newton High School in 1961 and attended Bethel College for one year. She then worked for American Coach Co. in Newton.

She married Roger Ratzlaff in 1964, and to this union two sons were born, David and Eric Ratzlaff. They lived in Hesston and when her sons were small, several young mothers from the community formed a group called “Mother’s Night Out” (MNO), meeting once a month. They have continued to meet for more than 50 years and still meet once a week to play cards. Bette was an active member of this group until her death. She also served as secretary of the Kansas MCC Relief Sale for many years.

She married Knox Rhine in 1990. While they were living in Everett, Wash., she worked for Reid Middleton.

They moved back to Newton in 2002, and Bette began working in the Harvey County Clerk’s office until her retirement in 2011. She continued working part-time as the election clerk, overseeing the election process until she became ill. In her retirement, she was also a volunteer at Newton Medical Center and Victory in the Valley. She served on the Newton Medical Center Community Association Board for many years. She was a member of Faith Mennonite Church and served on the Fellowship Committee there for several years.

Bette was an avid bridge player and continued to play even after moving to the Schowalter Villa Care Facility. She enjoyed playing cards of any kind and would play whenever her health would allow. She also loved all holidays and decorated her house, yard and anything else that didn’t move for every season and holiday. Her decorations were lavish and beautiful! She made wonderful peppernuts and holiday cookies and candy, which she generously shared with her family and friends. Her zwieback was the best! She also loved flowers and at the first sign of spring, pots of flowers appeared, and as the season progressed, her front porch and back patio were covered with beautiful plants of all varieties.

All in all, Bette just loved life and lived it to the fullest each and every day. She is survived by her two sons, Eric (Kori) Ratzlaff of Kansas City, Mo., and David (Cami) Ratzlaff of Milwaukee, Ore.; one brother, Kenneth (Loretta) Franz of Newton; brother-in-law and sister-in-law Jon and Gale Stevens of Maryland; brother-in-law Bobby Rhine of Colorado and two nephews Kent and Jay Franz. Her grandchildren are Krissa Pulliam, Raphaela Ratzlaff and Benett Ratzlaff; her great-grandchildren are Cecilia and Julian. Also, she had many great-nieces, great-nephews and cousins.

Bette was a loyal and true friend who leaves numerous longtime friends to mourn her passing, including her lifelong friend Becky Jo (Miller) Crupper. They met when they were neighbors at 4 years of age and have remained best friends ever since.

She was preceded in death by her husband Knox Rhine in 2013, and her parents.

Cremation has taken place and there will be a committal service at 1 p.m., Sept. 10, at Greenwood Cemetery, Newton. A Memorial Service will be at 2 p.m., Sept. 10, following the committal service at Faith Mennonite Church, 2100 N. Anderson Ave., Newton.

Memorials have been established with Faith Mennonite Church and Schowalter Villa Benevolent Fund.


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