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John R. Ratila

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John R. Ratila; 85
Veteran of WWII, Korea;

retired IBEW electrician

FITCHBURG, MA -- John R. Ratila, a long-time Fitchburg resident, died February 16, 2013, in the Life Care Center of Leominster after a long illness. He was 85.

Born at Mariners Harbor, Staten Island (NY) on March 22, 1927, John Rudolph Ratila was the son of Finnish immigrants Alexander and Annie L. (Koponen) Ratila. With the onset of the Great Depression the family decided to move in the early 1930s to Fitchburg settling on Hazel Street in one of the city's Finnish neighborhoods of the day.

John was in the Fitchburg High School class of 1945. While he left school early that year for active service in the Army he had enough credits to receive his diploma. He was a Pioneer in the Mediterranean Theatre serving in Italy with the Anti Tank Company of the 350th Infantry Regiment of the "Blue Devils" (88th Infantry Division).

An interest in electricity led John to study at Franklin Technical Institute in Boston. In 1950 he received a certificate for a two-year course in Electric Wiring and Maintenance.

Events in Korea prompted his return to active service in the Army. He became an electrician with the rank of Corporal with Company A of the 76th Engineer Construction Battalion in Korea.

In 1955 he received an Electrician Journeyman License from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He made the decision to become a union electrician and in 1957 was initiated into the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 256 of Fitchburg.

He was active in the governance of IBEW Local 256, serving 1969-1970 as president of the local.

In 1989, John Ratila retired from employment. At that time he was a member of IBEW Worcester Local 96 as Fitchburg Local 256 had merged with 96 some years before. He continued on in the IBEW as a life member. In 2012, he was honored with a certificate and pin commemorating 55 years of membership.

He had been a long-time member of Fitchburg V. F. W. Post 794 and Workers' Credit Union. He also had been a member of the former United Co-operative Society of Fitchburg.

He leaves a son, Jonathan N. Ratila, and a daughter, Ann L. Ratila, both of Fitchburg. His beloved wife of 54 years, Natalie J. (Lindstrom) Ratila, died May 10, 2010. His daughter, Sally J. Ratila, died Sept. 9, 2008. His father died in 1947 and his mother died in 1956. An uncle, Paavo Ratilainen died in 1966. A cousin, Pentti Temonen of Finland died in 2010.

The family wishes to thank home health aids, doctors, physical therapists, nurses and CNAs all involved in his care during his final illnesses.

RATILA -- The ashes of John and Natalie Ratila have been interred at the Ratila family grave in Forest Hill Cemetery. The Fitchburg Chapel of Sawyer-Miller-Masciarelli Funeral Homes handled the arrangements. An expanded obituary can be found at www.masciarellifuneralhomes.com. Memorial contributions may be made to the Raivaaja Foundation Inc., c/o Robert Hanninen, Treasurer, 640 Townsend Rd., Groton MA 01450; the Fitchburg Historical Society, Attn: Susan Navarre, Executive Director, P. O. Box 953, Fitchburg MA 01420; or The Finnish Center at Saima Park Inc, P.O. Box 30, Fitchburg, MA 01420.

Published in Sentinel & Enterprise on Jan. 29, 2014
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